Thousands of opposition demonstrators demanded the resignation of President Peter Mutharika in Lilongwe on Thursday, June 6, citing irregularities in the May 21 election and claiming the vote was rigged. The protesters filled streets in the capital, with one group occupying the Capital Hill complex (containing presidential and governmental offices) for a third consecutive day, before clashing with police, who fired tear gas to disperse them. Police forces also reportedly fired live ammunition; a police spokesman claimed a child had been "accidentally shot" but survived amid the protest activity, without providing additional details regarding the number of total casualties from the clashes. Unconfirmed reports claim several people were wounded.
Notably, the US Ambassador to Malawi was subjected to tear gas while meeting with Lazarus Chakwera, head of the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP); neither sustained significant injuries. A heightened security presence and localized traffic disruptions are to be expected in Lilongwe over the coming hours.
Similar opposition-led protests demanding the resignation of Mutharika are possible in Lilongwe and in other urban areas across Malawi over the near term.
General elections were held peacefully throughout Malawi on May 21. According to the results released on May 27, incumbent President Peter Mutharika from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) secured 38.5 percent of the vote over MCP challenger Lazarus Chakwera, who obtained 35.4 percent of the vote.
Election-related demonstrations took place in the capital Lilongwe and in other urban centers (including Dowa, Mchinji, Chikwawa, and Chitipa) on May 26 after the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) announced that the release of presidential election results would be delayed further. The high court issued an injunction blocking the publication of the results amid allegations of election fraud. Further demonstrations by rival political supporters were staged in Lilongwe on May 28 and June 4.
Individuals in Lilongwe and across Malawi are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
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