About 100 riot police officers stormed Malawi Congress Party (MCP) head offices in Lilongwe yesterday afternoon, where they tear-gassed the opposition party’s youths and damaged some property.
MCP national organising secretary Khumbize Chiponda confirmed the development in an interview yesterday, saying it all began when the youth—who have been camping at the MCP headquarters—were chased by armed police as they were going to fuel one of their lorries at a service station within the city centre.
She said the police chased the youth into the office premises where they started throwing tear gas at them.
According to Chiponda, the police have damaged the party’s property, including five window panes and burst two tyres of the lorries which were being used by the party followers.
She said: “We don’t know why the police were chasing our youths who were simply going to fuel one of our lorries. They didn’t even have a search warrant, yet they invaded the party’s private property with violent acts.”
Chiponda said the youth were still around because the party had some unfinished business of its own, adding that it was clear that the police had ill intentions because they had been lurking around the party headquarters in their multitude and “were just waiting for the right time to strike”.
In an interview yesterday evening, National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said he was yet to get details of the incident, but referred The Nation to an earlier statement by Police Inspector General (IG) Rodney Jose warning all Malawians to desist from politically-motivated violence.
In the statement, Jose said the police would ensure peace and calm by preventing all criminal acts, especially those politically motivated.
A visit to the MCP offices established that there were close to 100 police officers, many of them armed, within and outside the MCP headquarters. There were more police officers on guard, others up to a 100 metres away on foot and in armoured vehicles.
Commenting on the development, executive director for Centre for Human Rights Rehabilitation (CHRR) Timothy Mtambo condemned the police for what he termed “an act of violence and brutality”.
There have been a number of politically motivated violence cases after the May 21 Tripartite Elections whose results were delayed by queries and a court battle, mainly over results of the presidential poll.
Police say they arrested 34 people in places like Dowa, Lilongwe and Kasungu, deemed as the stronghold of MCP supporters, in connection with the violence.