Fellow Malawians,

Two days ago, I was here in my office hosting the US Ambassador for a farewell visit before  her  departure  from  Malawi.  Suddenly,  a  group  of  police  officers  with  two armored  vehicles  positioned  themselves  outside  these  premises  and  started  firing teargas at this building. It was the second such attack on the MCP headquarters in two weeks, and even though the American Ambassador had come here in her official vehicle with the US flag flying, the police continued to fire teargas and rubber bullets from  that  morning  until  well  into  the  afternoon,  with  at  least  one  teargas  canister landing on the front lawn of the US Embassy. I was later informed that at Njewa, a group of Malawians traveling into the city to attend a peaceful march were also stopped by police and pursued with indiscriminate shots  of teargas that even landed inside Covenant Private School, traumatizing young children in the process and leaving them wailing inconsolably.

 

To this day, neither the police nor Mr. Mutharika have acknowledged that it is against the law for police officers to fire teargas into an office building without provocation. To this day, neither the police nor Mr. Mutharika have acknowledged that it is against the law for police officers to fire teargas at citizens who are marching peacefully. To this day, neither the police nor Mr. Mutharika have acknowledged that it is against the law for police officers to fire teargas at journalists covering the news. To this day, neither the police nor Mr. Mutharika have acknowledged that it is against the law for police officers to fire teargas at a school full of children. To this day, neither the police nor Mr.  Mutharika  have  acknowledged  that  it  is  against  the  laws  of  Malawi   and international  law  for  police  officers  to  fire  teargas  at  a  foreign  embassy  or  its representative.

 

That said, breaking the law while wearing a police uniform or driving a police vehicle is still a crime. As such, you would expect that the police officers who have done these things would be arrested, but that is not going to happen because Malawi is under a lawless regime.  You  would  expect  that Mr. Mutharika  will  remember  his  studies in international law and call for the arrest of police officers who are abusing their office to attack unarmed civilians, but that is not going to happen because Malawi is under a lawless regime. You  would expect that Mr. Mutharika would heed the call of the African  Union  which  issued  a  statement  that  same  day  to  strongly  condemn  the excessive use of force by police officers under his command. In fact, you would expect that  Mr.  Mutharika  will  repair  our damaged  diplomatic relations by  issuing a  public apology to the US Government and the US Ambassador for the reckless way the police inadvertently committed an act of war, but that is not going to happen because Malawi is under a lawless regime.

What has happened instead is the arrest of peaceful protesters and unarmed civilians who were simply on the streets to exercise their constitutional right. Section 38 of the Constitution of Malawi states categorically that “Every person shall have the right to assemble and demonstrate with others peacefully and unarmed.” I therefore strongly condemn   the   arrest  of   peaceful   protesters   and   demand   their  immediate   and unconditional  release.  Furthermore,  if  any  protesters  are  using  violent  means  to achieve their ends or infringing on the rights of others, I call on the police to enforce the  law  and  bring  them to  book  without  using  violence  or  force.  But  the  arrest  of peaceful protesters and the shooting of unarmed civilians must stop immediately.

I am aware that some misguided individuals have issued public statements blaming me for inciting violence, but I am confident that no sane Malawian takes such baseless allegations  seriously.  Malawians  are  peace-loving  and  peace-keeping  people,  and they know that I am an advocate for peace. All of you Malawians know that ever since Election Day, this is now the third time for me to address you, and not once have I said anything to incite violence. What I have said is that we have filed a petition to the High Court to expose and nullify the fraudulent results that Mr. Mutharika is using to pretend to be president. What I have said is that when the court hearing starts, Malawians of all political parties who know that their vote was stolen should join me in marching peacefully to the court until a verdict is reached, for the law says that a verdict must be reached within 24 days. What I have said is that I have turned to the courts because the Judiciary is fair and independent, unlike the Electoral Commission. What I have said is that those of you who have your own reasons for protesting now before the court hearing starts have a constitutional right to do so and a civic responsibility to do it peacefully, and so it is illegal for the police to stop or attack you for it and insensitive for  any  politician  to  suggest  that  you  should  delay  your  display  of  anger  against injustice until it suits them. What I have said is that I too will continue to use peaceful and lawful means to stand up for justice for all Malawians. If doing so puts my own freedom and life at risk, so be it.

I  would  gladly  surrender  all  that  I  am and  have  that  is  good  in  this  world to  see  Malawi  and  its  people  freed.

And no matter what anyone says, Malawi’s freedom is coming. God bless Malawi.

Lazarus Chakwera.

President, Malawi Congress Party

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