Incidents of violence and low patronage characterised the second day of the planned four-day anti-Jane Ansah demonstrations organised by Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) in Lilongwe.
When the protesters regrouped at Lilongwe Community Centre ground on Wednesday, the procession started peacefully before turning ugly. Some protesters were seen pelting Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldiers with stones and one woman had her clothes stripped off.
The number of protesters was almost half that of the previous day, but more joined when the procession reached Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) Roundabout. The protesters who joined at this point were seen alighting from three trucks believed to be from outside Lilongwe City.
In an interview, HRDC vice-chairperson Gift Trapence touted on Wednesday’s demonstration as the most peaceful because, according to him, there was no violence and vandalism of property along the official route.
However, some of the protesters, especially those believed to be street children, pelted some food vendors with stones at Chisomo Private Secondary School near Winners’ Chapel church in Mchesi Township.
When MDF soldiers intervened, the group retaliated by pelting them with stones, a situation that forced the soldiers to assault some of the protesters to restore order.
Near Lingadzi Inn, the same group was seen attacking a woman for allegedly refusing to offer them a hug.
The group reached their final destination, Parliament Building, where HRDC leaders lobbied legislators not to confirm acting Inspector General of Police Duncan Mwapasa.
In his address, HRDC chairperson Timothy Mtambo condemned the behaviour of some of the protesters. He alleged that they were sent to disrupt the process.
Trapence attributed the low patronage to bad weather. It rained heavily in Lilongwe from dawn to around 7am.
Since June, HRDC has been holding a series of demonstrations to force Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson Jane Ansah and her commissioners to resign for allegedly presiding over a flawed electoral process in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.