Protesters stone police officer to death in Malawi

Protesters watch a Malawi Defence Force armoured vehicle in Malawi where a police officer was killed

Protesters watch a Malawi Defence Force armoured vehicle passing by during an overnight vigil against the result of the May 21 presidential vote in Lilongwe on July 4, 2019. - Several thousand people protested in Malawi's capital Lilongwe on July 4, 2019 against the re-election of the President, which they claim was fraudulent. Police and soldiers were on duty as marchers headed towards parliament for a two-day vigil. (Photo by AMOS GUMULIRA / AFP)

A policeman was stoned to death Tuesday in Malawi during clashes between pro- and anti-government protesters ahead of President Peter Mutharika’s first public meeting since a disputed election, police said.  

A wave of protests over the May poll has gripped Malawi since May and Msundwe – a trading outpost west of the capital – has been a hotbed of demonstrations. “We have lost a police officer,” police spokesman James Kadadzera told reporters, adding that he had been stoned to death and “killed by rioters and criminals this morning.”

Anti-government protesters had blocked the main road in Msundwe to stop supporters of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party from travelling to Mutharika’s first rally in the city since his poll win.

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Malawi opposition supporters march to the Malawian parliament during a demonstration against the re-election of the president, which protestors say was due to fraud, on July 4, 2019, in Lilongwe, Malawi. – About 3,500 marchers headed towards parliament where a two-day vigil is planned against the result of the May 21 presidential vote. The election was marred by allegations of fraud, including that many results sheets were altered using typewriter correction fluid. (Photo by AMOS GUMULIRA / AFP)

An eyewitness said police fired teargas to disperse the protests but demonstrators kept regrouping and they fought back with stones.” 

“In the ensuing chaos, they cornered one policeman whom they stoned to death,” Ulemu Phiri, who witnessed the chaotic scenes said. Homeland Security Minister Nicholas Dausi said some of the protesters had put up a roadblock, throwing stones and injuring people.

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“Other road users called the police to come and rescue them. When the police arrived, they started stoning them to the extent that we have lost one police officer,” Dausi said. Security expert and retired brigadier Marcel Chirwa accused the police of getting embroiled in politics and applying strong arm tactics.

At a rally in the city of Lilongwe, the stronghold of the country’s largest opposition, the Malawi Congress Party, Mutharika stuck a conciliatory tone, urging the country to unite. “This is our country. Let’s not burn it down,” Mutharika said.

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