Police in Malawi have named an officer killed on Tuesday during clashes with anti-government protesters in Msundwe – a trading outpost west of the capital city, Lilongwe.
Police spokesman James Kadadzerab told news agency AFP that officer Usumani Imedi had been stoned to death and “killed by rioters and criminals”.
He was among officers who confronted demonstrators who had blocked the main road in Msundwe, an opposition stronghold, to stop supporters of President Peter Mutharika’s from attending his first rally in the city since his controversial election win in May.
Opposition supporters have been angered by how the electoral commission handled the vote, alleging it was full of irregularities.
Homeland Security Minister Nicholas Dausi said that other road users had asked for the police to intervene after the protesters blocked the busy road.
“When the police arrived, they started stoning them to the extent that we have lost one police officer”.
Police fired teargas to disperse the demonstrators but they “kept regrouping and they fought back with stones… in the ensuing chaos, they cornered one policeman whom they stoned to death,” an eyewitness told AFP.
At least 12 people have been arrested and many more are likely to be detained, local Nation newspaper reports.
President Mutharika later held the rally in the capital and appealed for calm in the country, saying:
“This is our country. Let’s not burn it down.”