Police in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, on Friday arrested organizers of an anti-government protest and about 30 others for allegedly inciting violence.
Police spokesperson Peter Kalaya told VOA that the violence started when the protesters were denied permission to present a petition directly to the president at his state residence.
“When they reached the district’s commissioner office, instead of presenting their petition to the district commission, they wanted to take him to the state house to present the petition. So when the district commissioner said no, they came back into the street and started stoning buildings,” Kalaya said.
Kalaya said the protesters’ demands were contrary to what was agreed upon in planning meetings for the march.
He said during the meetings it was agreed upon that the demonstrators would present their petition to the office of the district commissioner, not take it to the president’s home.
Kayala said police arrested 33 people, including two protest organizers.
“Among those arrested are Mr. Chisa Mbele and Mr. Levi Luwembe. At the moment they are in police custody and they are charged with inciting violence,” Kayala said. Those arrested will appear in court Monday he said.
On Thursday, Mbele led a similar protest in Malawi’s commercial capital, Blantyre, where protesters presented their petition to the office of the district commissioner.
The march was organized to protest the high cost of living and alleged corruption in the Lazarus Chakwera administration.
Protesters also accused Chakwera of failing to fulfill promises he made during his campaign two years ago, when he said would ensure food security to all Malawians and create 1 million jobs for Malawians once he took power.
The president said during his state of the nation address this week that he was doing everything possible to address people’s concerns.