In Malawi, the official residence of Vice President Cassim Chilumpha is besieged by armed policemen following reports that some human rights activists wanted to meet with Chilumpha. The Vice President is under house arrest, and police say their visit was part of a program to check on detention centers in the Southern Region.
The Vice President’s lead attorney, Fahad Assani, spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey about the police presence.
“I was notified by the Vice President that there were some armed police personnel outside his official residence. And when I tried to find out the details, I was told that in deed there were quite a number of police officers there. We do not know why they were there but eventually, we understood that because the Malawi Human Rights Commission -- this is one of the constitutional bodies set up by our constitution -- wanted to visit his residence as a detention center. Since the Vice President is there virtually as a detainee under house arrest, they do not want them to see the Vice President… and also the fact that the Malawi Human Rights Commission had written a letter of protest to the court for the delay in the Vice President’s matter they just dispersed on their own,” he noted.
Assani says he would not waste his time to protest the presence of the armed policemen since the country is virtually a police state.
“I have not made any protest, you know this nation, which looking at it is really a police state. There is no point in protesting to them because the best way to deal with this government is just to hammer it through the court. And make sure that, the court makes the necessary orders, which ordinarily they violate and they don’t want to comply with. But to protest against the policemen is just a waste of time,” he said.
Assani says the tactics of the Mutharika-led government will not intimidate the Vice President’s defense team.
“The goodness is that none of us really can be intimidated by the naïve approach by the police because we know that we have our own constitutional right, and we are citizens of this nation. But whatever they want to do, we will deal with it and meet it head on,” he said.
He says the defense team is still waiting for a decision by a constitutional court on the Vice President’s house arrest.
“Because the state has not been able to furnish any evidence whatsoever from the time they arrested him, it is illegal to arrest somebody without any basis as our Constitution demands. And we are still waiting for that ruling. And as of Wednesday, we were advised that because the leading judge in the Constitutional Court was hospitalized and now that he has been discharged, they are not able to deliver the ruling, which could otherwise have been delivered on the 20th of May,” he said.
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