Death toll in Malawi riots rises to 6

08:55, July 21, 2011      

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Photo taken on July 20, 2011 shows the riot happens in Lilongwe, Malawi. (Xinhua/Kondwani Magombo)

Death toll from the riots on Wednesday in Malawi rises to 6 as local media Joy Radio of Malawi reported another 2 died in the southern commercial city of Blantyre during the chaotic event.

Four people were previously reported dead following the riots that ensued in the cities of Malawi following the police's failure to contain the situation where protesters vandalized shops, offices and vehicles.

The violence ensued following an eleventh-hour court injunction obtained by one lawyer at 1 a.m. local time on Wednesday stopping the nationwide peaceful demonstrations organized by the civil society and the opposition parties in protest of President Mutharika's leadership.

The court order was issued despite the fact that President Mutharika had given a go ahead to the event on Monday.

The situation got out of hand when the police, following the court order, tried to stop the march.

It all started in Mzuzu, a city up north where, according to the local media, protesters overpowered the police and went on rampage and set ablaze the ruling party's vehicle, vandalized the party's offices and tore off all President Mutharika's billboards in the city.

A local radio, Zodiak, confirmed death of four people in Mzuzu city while unconfirmed reports indicated one death in the capital following police shootout.

In Lilongwe violence took root from early in the morning as the civil society and the opposition officials were negotiating with the court to have the injunction lifted.

The local media reports said one of the civil society leaders, Undule Mwakasungula, and a dozen local journalists were severely beaten by police while elsewhere in the city protesters overpowered the police, looted and vandalized banks, offices and shops.

Included on the list of the vandalized structures in Lilongwe and Blantyre are police vehicles and houses and ruling party officials' property.

In Zomba, however, the march was conducted peacefully and the police are reported to have handled the situation professionally.

Meanwhile, the protestors in all the Blantyre and Lilongwe succeed in presenting their petition to the authorities following the lifting of the injunction late in the afternoon.

Among other things the protestors are calling upon President Mutharika to address issues of critical shortage of fuel, forex, and poor governance.

As the riots carried the day throughout the country, elsewhere at State House in the capital, President Mutharika was presenting a public lecture on issues of sovereignty, political independence, forex, good governance and human rights, where he emphasized that Malawi will never dance to the donors' tune.

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