Demos should not cripple govt operations, protesters should be unarmed – Govt

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Government has told the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) to ensure that post-election protesters are unarmed and that demonstrations do not shut down government operations.

The government said this when representatives from the Malawi Police Service and Attorney General’s office met members of the HRDC in Lilongwe today. The meeting was scheduled to be held at Kamuzu Barracks but was later shifted to UNDP offices.

Participants during the meeting

Speaking on behalf of the government side, Deputy Commissioner of Police Barbara Tsiga said they presented 12 issues to HRDC in their proposal.

She said they want the HRDC to comply with section 38 of the penal code on peaceful demonstrations, which has not been the case in previous post-election demonstrations.

Tsiga added that the HRDC should make sure that protesters are unarmed, that demonstrations do not lead to government shutdown and that roads are passable.

According to Tsiga, they are asking the HRDC to stick to the time frame of conducting demonstrations so that government should plan well in terms of security. The Government also wants media houses to stop live coverage of the demonstrations.

During the meeting, the government side urged the HRDC to work together with police to ensure violence is avoided and to continue with open communications before, during and after demonstration.

On its part, the HRDC has presented eleven issues to be considered by the Office of the Attorney General. HRDC lawyer Khwima Mchizi said the Attorney General should advise the executive branch of government to stop attempts to curtail the rights of Malawians by making unfair statements.

Mchizi said they also want the Malawi Defence Force to disarm Democratic Progressive Party cadets because people were being beaten up during recent demonstrations.

“The third point is about the use of public broadcasters more especially MBC which air programs about bad attitudes of demonstrations, creating anger to people,” he said.

Mchizi added that the Attorney General should advise councils to stop derailing demonstrations saying it creates unnecessary tension.

Commenting on the issue, HRDC chairperson Timothy Mtambo commended the AG team for meeting the grouping saying he is looking forward to fruitful solutions which will bring peace in the country.

The HRDC has been organising demonstrations to force Malawi Electoral Commission Chairperson Jane Ansah to resign.

Following violence in protests held over the past months, the Supreme Court of Appeal issued a moratorium against demonstrations and told the Attorney and HRDC to discuss ways of organizing peaceful demonstrations.

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