Mutharika regrets not stopping post-election protests

Former President Peter Mutharika says he should have forcefully stopped the post-election protests which were held over a period of ten months following the 2019 elections.

Mutharika was speaking in an interview with Pan-African Visions in an interview published on June 17.

“On the issue whether I could have handled better, I probably should have forcefully stopped the violent demonstrations. They did a lot of damage to the country,” said Mutharika.

Mutharika was declared winner in the 2019 elections but his win was nullified in 2020. In the months between the 2019 result announcement and the nullification, protesters stormed the streets of Malawi demanding electoral justice, saying the 2019 presidential elections had been rigged in favour of Mutharika.

On several occasions, protests turned violence with property getting damaged and people sustaining injuries. Mutharika at times ordered Police to use force to stop the protests but the Malawi Defence Force were widely hailed for protecting demonstrators.

During the interview, Mutharika maintained that the 2019 elections were free, fair and credible and he faulted the courts for cancelling his victory.

According to Mutharika, the Court decided against all the evidence before it to nullify the election.

“What happened was not justice but politics of justice,” he said.

He added that the 2020 fresh elections were the ones which were rigged as they were conducted without foreign observers.

He said: “Local observers were beaten up, attacked and some were killed especially in the 3 Central Region where the opposition party, now ruling party, dominates. It was after these observers were chased away that massive rigging took place. It was a travesty.”

Mutharika also responded to his successor Lazarus Chakwera’s criticism of his [Mutharika’s] administration.

Chakwera last year said: “Ours is a system that needs an overhaul, that’s why we are talking of changing direction for this sinking ship which had been weighed down by greed, nepotism, corruption, executive arrogance and all the economic atrocities that were committed by a cartel of state criminal.”

Asked if he thought Chakwera was providing a proper assessment of the Malawi Mutharika left behind, the former Malawi leader said the assessment actually fits the situation under Chakwera.

“No, I do not recognize the Malawi he is talking about. In view of what is happening since he took over, he was probably surmising about the Malawi that now exists under his leadership,” said Mutharika.

On life after presidency, Mutharika said he is now spending a lot of time reading and writing but also engaging Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials around the country in the restructuring process.

According to Mutharika, on a typical day, he gets up in the morning, exercise, drink green tea and get on the phone to respond to the many phone calls and requests from within Malawi but also from outside.

He said: “Life after the Presidency is certainly not a death sentence. I am now able to reflect. I am reading a lot of history, writing about my 14 years in politics and my over 40 years as a professor of Law at some of the best universities in the world. For me the 14 years I spent in frontline politics were in a way an interlude to my academic journey to which I have returned through research, writing and international lectures.”

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