BLANTYRE, MALAWI - The United States ambassador to Malawi was caught up in political unrest as police fired tear gas while she met with an opposition leader on Thursday, while police acknowledged some of the gas wafted into the U.S. embassy nearby.
Departing Ambassador Virginia Palmer was meeting in the capital, Lilongwe, with Lazarus Chakwera at his party headquarters a short walk from the embassy. Chakwera finished a close second in last month's presidential election and has gone to court to challenge the results, and his Malawi Congress Party supporters have been holding protests.
A U.S. Embassy spokesman confirmed the meeting and told the privately- owned Nation newspaper that "as for the tear gas, we are monitoring the situation." The embassy did not immediately comment to The Associated Press.
Police told the AP they had not been aware the ambassador was inside the party headquarters when they pursued and confronted protesters outside.
"When the police were firing tear gas we did not know anything until when she came out of the office," police spokesman James Kadadzera said.
The embassy is adjacent to the party headquarters "so when the tear gas was thrown into the MCP premises it found its way into the other surrounding areas," he added.
President Peter Mutharika has urged post-election unity in the southern African nation, dismissing opposition allegations of corruption during his first term.