Blantyre, Malawi (PANA) - One person was arrested while a police station in the capital, Lilongwe, was razed to the ground after hundreds of people went on rampage on Sunday following police attack on a series of rallies addressed by Atupele Muluzi, former president Bakili Muluzi's son, who has expressed interest to contest the 2014 presidential election.
"Police action was totally unprovoked," the young Muluzi told PANA in a telephone interview. "From nowhere police just started throwing teargas into the crowd."
Muluzi said he had organised a series of "whistle-stop" tours around the city to sell his agenda for change ahead of the 2014 polls. He said police tried to disperse the crowd that had gathered in Likuni area of the city but people resisted.
"We were coming from the second venue when we countered a roadblock," he said.
Muluzi said police shot at tyres of a car belonging to a UDF parliamentarian and threw teargas inside.
Things came to a head when Muluzi went to address people at Area 24 in the city.
"I was about to address the crowd when police started firing teargas willy-nilly," he said. "This is in a residential area where there are children, women, and old people."
The group of 15 police officers who were watching over the meeting were out numbered and one officer was severely beaten by angry residents. The angry mob then attacked a police station and razed it to the ground.
"Things were pretty ugly," said an eye-witness. "People could not handle the crowd."
Police spokesman Dave Chingwalu said Muluzi had no permission to hold the whistle-stop tour, a charge the 34-year-old politician dismissed.
Muluzi claimed he had permission for the rallies, saying "In fact the laws say we need to inform the police if we want to hold any meeting which we did."
Muluzi wants to be presidential candidate of the UDF, a party that governed Malawi for 10 years under his father.
The UDF won the third multiparty election in 2004 under President Bingu wa Mutharika who dumped it to found his own Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) because - according to the 78-year-old economist-turned-politician - UDF leaders frowned upon his tough anti-corruption stand.
-0- PANA RT/VAO 19March2012