A protester carries a placard calling for the ouster of Malawi Electoral Commission chairwoman, Jane Ansah, during a protest in Lilongwe, Malawi. File picture: AP
A protester carries a placard calling for the ouster of Malawi Electoral Commission chairwoman, Jane Ansah, during a protest in Lilongwe, Malawi. File picture: AP

Opposition politician arrested for inciting violence in Malawi

By Ayanda Mdluli Time of article published Jan 12, 2020

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Blantyre - An opposition politician in Malawi has been arrested for inciting violence after threatening that there will be war in the country if they do not get their way in a court case contesting the outcome of the nation's election results that were released last year.

Senior political sources in the country allege that Jessie Kabwila, a high ranking member of the opposition UTM threatened judges hearing the election case  that there will be war in the country if their judgment is not in favour of the opposition.

Kabwila allegedly issued the threats on Friday during a demonstration organized by opposition political parties and a civil society group called Human Rights Defenders Coalition.

Kabwila, who is a senior member of UTM, a political party of former vice president Saulos Chilima, is also alleged to have said that the opposition would not accept any judgment other than the one that favours them.

Kabwila was further quoted by senior political insiders saying: "We are getting close to judgment day and there will be war in Malawi if those judges deliver a childish judgment. We will not accept it."

Independnet Media has confirmed that Kabwila has since been arrested and will answer charges on inciting violence.

Speaking to Independent Media on Sunday night, Executive Assistant to President Mutharika and Director of Communication Dr Bright Molande said police confirmed they arrested Kabwila for inciting violence and threatening and psychological bullying judges.

"Nobody is above the law. We urge all Malawians to respect the courts and judges. As for the arrest of Ms Kabwila, that's in the hands of the police to pursue the due course of justice," Molande said.

The country's Constitutional Court is presiding over a case in which Chilima and another opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party are protesting the re-election of Peter Mutharika as president. 

They are seeking nullification of the election which took place in May 2019, claiming it was rigged.

Hearing of the case concluded in December 2019 and the judges are expected to deliver their ruling within 45 days. 

Chakwera and Chilima filed their petition in June last year. Since then, Malawi has been gripped by a series of violent demonstrations organized by the opposition and HRDC to press for the resignation of chairperson for the Malawi Electoral Commission, Supreme Court Judge Justice Jane Ansah. The opposition and HRDC accuse Ansah of mismanaging the election, a claim she denies.

However, local civil society organizations, including HRDC, under the Malawi Electoral Support Network and all international election observer missions certified the election as free, fair, credible, transparent and well managed. 

Last week, the opposition stopped the European Union Election Observer Mission from presenting its final report. The opposition claimed the report would compromise the case.

In a statement, Chief Election Observer for the EU to Malawi Miroslav Poche said they were  disappointed that they were not able to present their final report on the elections.

He said the report is a technical document and it does not interfere with the current political situation in Malawi in light of the presidential election case.

The mission said it wiould present the report in February by which time judgement is expected to be out.

In a preliminary report released just after the election, the EU mission described the election as "transparent, well-managed and competitive."

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