Police in Malawi said Sunday they had arrested dozens of people over a wave of protests that have gripped the country following disputed results from May’s election won by President Peter Mutharika.
Nearly 70 people have been arrested, police said, a day after Mutharika accused protesters of plotting to oust his government.
Police said the arrests came after “criminal acts”, including looting and the stoning of cars and buildings during demonstrations on Thursday.
“So far we have arrested 68 suspects strongly connected to the looting and injuring of police officers,” police said in a statement.
Protest organisers were defiant, vowing to go back to the streets calling for the electoral commission chief Jane Ansah, to resign.
A new round of protests is scheduled to resume on Monday.
“We will be on the streets exercising our rights peacefully,” said the organisers, a coalition of rights groups, in a statement on Sunday.
“We will not abrogate our ultimate citizens rights to assemble and to protest because of the cynical and nefarious actions of a tiny few. We will not be cowered into accepting an incompetent (electoral commission),” they said.
On Saturday Mutharika told a rally to mark the country’s 55th anniversary of independence that the violence linked to the protests was “calculated to turn Malawi into a lawless state”.
“They want to create lawlessness so that they can take over this government. But they will only take this government over my dead body,” he said.
The nationwide protests have been organised by a non-profit grouping, the Human Rights Defenders Coalition, which has rejected allegations of trying to topple the government.
None of the main protest organisers has been reported arrested.
Opposition leaders claim correction fluid was used on some results sheets and have lodged complaints in court.
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