Malawi police defend using teargas on opposition supporters

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LILONGWE, May 29 (Xinhua) -- Malawi Police have defended their Tuesday attack on opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) supporters at the party's Headquarters in the capital with teargas saying it was meant to restore law and order in the country.

The police told the local media on Wednesday that the act was justifiable following some post-election violence witnessed in the capital, Lilongwe, Tuesday upon announcement of presidential election results in which MCP candidate, Lazarus Chakwera, lost to the incumbent president, Peter Mutharika.

Malawi police spokesperson, James Kadadzera, accused the opposition party followers of unlawful assembly, adding that the place where they had gathered was a hot spot for violence.

Kadadzera said the police had already communicated to political party supporters that if they had problems concerning the elections they should follow right channels to present them or risk facing the arm of the law.

"We are appealing to all those who are involving themselves in violences to stop because it's unconstitutional, it is against the law," said Kadadzera.

There have been reports that some opposition supporters were injured during the teargas fracas but the police spokesperson said his office was yet to be served with an official complaint.

But MCP Organizing Secretary Khumbidze Kandodo Chiponda said the police were the ones provoking the opposition supporters at their own compound where they had gathered to conduct postmortem on the election.

"You know Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, our president, was man of the people but now they have sworn in Peter Mutharika; we said okay, well and good, we are crying, yes, but let's cry in our compound, instead of going to the streets," explained Chiponda in an interview with the local media Tuesday.

She claimed that the police had been camping around the MCP offices for three days, looking for ways to provoke the opposition supporters and that the law enforcers finally started throwing teargas canisters at the "mourning opposition supporters."

Chiponda alleged that apart from destruction of some property, two MCP supporters got injured in the process.

"It is very unfortunate that they are trying to provoke us; but let me warn them: you try to provoke us, we are going to hit back. We will not allow anyone to intimidate us because we know that we won this election," added Chiponda.

Earlier the police told journalist at a press briefing in Blantyre that 34 people had been arrested in Dowa and Lilongwe which are strongholds of the MCP following post-election political violence.

President Mutharika, who represented the Democratic Progressive Party and has now been sworn in as Malawi's president for the coming 5 years, narrowly beat Chakwera, by 38.57 percent to 35.41 percent. Enditem

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