Cape Town — Police in Malawi tear-gassed and assaulted opposition supporters and arrested the country's top human rights official in a weekend of rising tension over a call by civil society leaders for President Bingu wa Mutharika to step down.
The Nyasa Times reported that residents in one area of the capital, Lilongwe, stoned police and set alight a police station on Sunday after security forces had stopped people from attending an opposition meeting.
Also in Lilongwe, police arrested John Kapito, chairman of the state-funded Malawi Human Rights Commission and executive director of the Consumers' Association of Malawi. They later charged him with holding foreign currency without having "valid bank documents", and released him, Agence France-Press reports.
The developments follow a call by Malawi's respected Public Affairs Committee (PAC) for Mutharika to resign or call a referendum within 90 days.
The Daily Times reported that after a two-day meeting in the commercial capital, Blantyre, last week, the PAC passed a resolution saying Mutharika should resign or "call for a national referendum to seek fresh mandate from the people of Malawi".