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.
President, Malawi Congress Party
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