KARONGA (MEC Stringer) – With just few days before people of Karonga Northwest Constituency go to polls in the March 30 by-elections to elect a Parliamentarian of their choice, fracas erupted on Tuesday at Kasisi in the area of senior chief Kilupula in Karonga District between Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) and UTM Party supporters.
According to a video clip that has gone viral on the social media, UTM Party supporters are seen being chased away by AFORD members.
The development came days after the Multiparty Liaison Committee meeting at Maghemo nerve centre commended the eight candidates vying for the vacant seat and their political cronies for conducting a peaceful campaign.
However, both AFORD and UTM party who are partners in Tonse Alliance confirmed about the incident but both parties blamed each other for the political fracas.
In an interview, AFORD deputy regional governor Mr Denis Mhone said UTM Party supporters provoked the situation by intruding at the venue of their meeting with loud noise from the sound system hence the mayhem.
Nevertheless, Mhone claimed to have calmed down the situation to avoid escalation of violence that could lead to chaos and dent the electoral calendar.
“UTM party supporters have been trailing our campaign trails. We have avoided them many times and today the situation got worse. However, we controlled the supporters whose tempers were high,” he said.
In a separate interview, UTM Party national publicity secretary Mr Frank Mwenifumbo said his party supporters are not intimidated by what their alliance partners who he said are hell bent to tarnish the good image and reputation of his party owing to its popularity in Karonga district and northern region.
He said: “UTM Party supporters were denied right of way by AFORD supporters who blocked passage by parking their cars right in the middle of the road. However, UTM party supporters avoided confrontation by diverting to the bush.
“It’s unfortunate for AFORD to have formed the propaganda out of this. We in the UTM are not surprised at this appalling behaviour and we are not intimidated by their attitude towards us, we remain strong and invincible”.
Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Justice Dr. Chifundo Kachale who is in the district to monitor campaign rallies condemned the incident, saying political violence has no room in the modern democracy.
“He said: “As MEC we condemn that in the strongest terms and our stand is that candidates and party supporters should stick to issue based campaign. They should respect the rule of law and adhere to code of conduct and avoid violence that may lead to loss of lives and property. Let authorities investigate and bring to book perpetrators “.
Similar sentiments were shared by Karonga Diocese of the Catholic Commission of Justice and Peace (CCJP) Desk Officer Louis Nkhata who said the incident is regrettable, saying political parties have be proactive by dwelling on issue based campaign and seek permission from traditional leaders.
He said: “The politicians should be accompanied by the police to control the situation. And again, they have to seek permission from the chiefs to avoid collusions of that nature. Above all, let them focus on issue-based campaign”.
However, Karonga District Police Officer In-Charge Assistant Commissioner Mr Tiyese Chiwumbuzo feigned ignorance of the incident, saying nobody has reported the matter.
Mr Chiwumbuzo has since said his office will investigate the matter.
The Constituency has about 53, 000 eligible voters who will usher into power a candidate out of the eight contestants namely.