Tue. Sep 17th, 2019

DC in Karonga says no to peaceful demonstrations, commentator rebukes the move

By Jordan Simeon-Phiri
MEC Stringer
The Malawi Congress Party (MCP) supporters in the lakeshore district of Karonga have been denied their democratic right to peacefully march over the just released May 21 Presidential elections’ results.
On May 28, the MCP district chairperson James Nkhoma wrote the District Commissioner Emmanuel Bulukutu to ask for permission for the party supporters to carry out peaceful demonstrations in the district in solidarity with their fellow supporters in Lilongwe against the Presidential results which they feel were ‘stolen’ from their party Presidential torch bearer Lazarus Chakwera and won by DPP’s Arthur Mutharika.
But in response through a letter dated May 28 written and signed by Bulukutu who during the elections was the district’s elections coordinator (DEC) and addressed to Nkhoma, without giving reasons rejected the party’s request.
“Following your request to hold demonstrations around Karonga Town, you are hereby informed that your request has been rejected.
“By copy of this letter, the police are also being informed of the same,” reads the letter.
However, in an interview Nkhoma described the situation as unfortunate, saying in a democracy, citizens are free to hold peaceful demonstrations as that is their constitutional right.
Nkhoma further said as a party they will meet on Tuesday (May 5) to map the way forward on their next course of action.
In a separate interview, the University of Livingstonia political commentator, George Phiri faulted the District Commissioner for rejecting the MCP supporters their constitutional right, saying what Bulukutu did is a threat to democratic values that people voted for in the 1992 referendum.
“As a duty bearer and a shareholder of the country’s supreme book, the DC ought to understand the constitution better than anyone else. Therefore, he has no powers whatsoever to deny party supporters or any other citizen their right to demonstrate peacefully.
“In fact that is against the law and those whose rights were violated can challenge that in a competent court of law,” Phiri said.

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