Monday, July 25, 2011

Police Officers Stop UDF Rally in Blantyre

...Atupele Muluzi Obtains Court Injunction
...Rally takes place

The United Democratic Front (UDF) had its meeting stopped by Nyambadwe Police officers in Blantyre on Sunday, but the mass rally still went ahead, thanks to Malawi's judicial independence.
Save for the late commencement, the rally was well-attended.
Hordes of women and youths were seen clad in UDF's traditional yellow-and-blue attire at Nyambadwe Ground, venue of the meeting, and located just some 40 metres from Nyambadwe Police Station.
The meeting was organised by former State President, Bakili Muluzi's, son Atupele.
And, in a new twist to UDF's continued confusion, all legislators belonging to the former ruling party attended the meeting. They included UDF Leader in Parliament Ibrahim Matola, who led the gathering into the song..."Oyendetsa boma, samwa mowa!".
However, party followers had to brace two more hours in the biting cold as Police officers tussled with party officials over 'national security' issues.
The law enforcers were of the opinion that the rally wasill-timed, coming at a time when Malawi was just recovering from mass demonstrations- probably the worst since Malawi embraced multiparty politics of governance in 1994.
At least 18 people died in the demonstrations, and Police officers were keen to prevent the meeting on the basis that it would as a continuation of the July 20 events. However, government is trying to downplay he figures by pegging the number of victims at 11.
This campaign to downplay the figures is being spearheaded by President Bingu wa Mutharika. The President started mentioning the figure 11 in Zomba, barely two days after the death of 18 people as confirmed by Ministry of Health officials.
Ministry of Health Spokesperson, Henry Chimbali, told to BBC and Zachimalawi on Thursday 18 people had died.
But it is not clear why the head of the Executive Branch of government is trying to downplay the numbers of the dead.
However, lawyers such as former Attorney General Ralph Kasambara have indicated on their Facebook pages that the development could be part of a government ploy to 'run away' from the Hague.
This means that, in the opinion of some key public figures, Mutharika and is cohorts are afraid of accounting for their deeds to the International Criminal Court (ICC) one day.
But Mutharika has never hidden his disdain for the ICC. When he was African Union Chairperson, he often criticised the ICC for interfering in African affairs, and his argument was always that Africa has equally-competent courts that, once given the jurisdiction, would do a good job.
He described ICC's work as nothing short of interference in a sovereign state's affairs and, thus, a violation of the United Nations instrument of sovereignty.
Atupele Muluzi did not bulge but, instead, sought the help of his lawyers who successfully obtained a court injunction paving way for the rally.
And the rally went ahead.
However, while Atupele enchanted the public by imitating his father's voice, he failed to become clear on whether he would stand for the UDF's presidency.
He also fell short of portlaying the image of an independent person as he kept on mimmicking his father's voice and mannerisms, raising fears that what other UDF factons are saying that his (Atupele's) candidature would, in effect, be Bakili's Third Term by default.
"I will announce my stance (on whether he will compete for the UDF presidency) in September," said Atupele.
The signs that he will stand are clear, however, looking at the top UDF figures, including MPs, who attended the meeting.

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