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Last updateMar, 27 Jan 2015 5pm


Malawi president 'shocked' as two die in political violence

Blantyre, Malawi - Malawi president Joyce Banda has expressed shock at acts of political violence that occurred when her campaign rally came under attack in the southern tea-growing district of Thyolo, some 40 kilometres from the commercial capital, Blantyre.

Thyolo is a stronghold of Prof. Peter Mutharika, candidate for the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the May 20 elections.

Police on Monday confirmed the death of a police officer and a civilian following the attack.

“I am very saddened by the death of our two citizens. My government will not tolerate such acts of political violence to destabilise the peaceful management of elections and to threaten the peace and security of our people,” said President Banda in a statement.

Police spokesman Rhoda Manjolo told PANA on Monday Cassim Julius, a paramilitary police officer based in Blantyre, was hacked by an axe after another officer shot dead a civilian after the presidential convoy came under attack.

The limo carrying President Banda had, however, already left the area when things came to a head.

'The deceased villager was shot at by a police officer in self-defence after another police officer had been axed on the head and was lying unconscious,' explained Manjolo.

She said the officer, who shot the villager, also sustained a deep cut wound on the head. The civilian, she said, died on the spot while the police officer was pronounced dead on arrival at the main Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre.

'The police did all it could to minimise use of force for a sustained period of time; it's regretable that at the end our officer had to use such force as was necessary in self-defence,' Manjolo said.

President Banda has since directed the police to thoroughly investigate the incident and that all those that are directly or indirectly involved should face the full wrath of the law.

The DPP has denied involvement in the fracas but police say they are looking for politicians and businessmen who sponsored the violence.

'No arrests have been made so far but we are still investigating,' said Manjolo, the police spokeswoman.

DPP Campaign Director Kondwani Nankhumwa said it was too early to blame his party.

'Let the police do their investigations first,' he said.

Violence is, however, not new to the DPP. A day ahead of the unprecedented 20 July, 2011 action against excesses of power of the late president Bingu wa Mutharika, youths clad in DPP blue colours rode in open DPP-branded trucks brandishing knives warning that anybody who would participate in the elections would be dealt with.

The police looked on in awe as the militia advertised their violence. Any officer who raised a finger against this group, dubbed Youth Morale, was immediately transferred to rural outposts.

Pana 18/03/2014