The late Vice-President Saulos Chilima's party has asked mourners to shun acts of violence
The late Vice-President Saulos Chilima's party has asked mourners to shun acts of violence
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Mourners killed by car as Malawi VP's funeral convoy passes

Four people, including a pregnant woman, were killed after a vehicle tried to avoid the convoy carrying the body of the late Malawi Vice-President Saulos Chilima hit mourners, witnesses say.

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Twelve other people were injured in the incident on Sunday night and were being treated in hospital.

It followed clashes between local people, the police and soldiers escorting the late vice-president's funeral convoy from the capital, Lilongwe, to his home village for burial.

Mr Chilima died in a plane crash a week ago and was buried on Monday in his home district of Ntcheu, some 180 km (112 miles) south of the capital.

During the burial, some mourners sang songs criticising President Lazarus Chakwera.

The traffic accident happened on Sunday night, when thousands of people had lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the coffin as it was being transported for burial.

As the procession passed through areas close to Mr Chilima’s home, some people started to throw stones at government vehicles and officials.

In the commotion, one privately owned vehicle travelling in the opposite direction swerved to avoid the funeral convoy and went off the road, hitting a group of mourners, witnesses say.

Two men and two women lost their lives, according to a police statement.

The car was not part of the official convoy as had been earlier reported.

The spokesman for Mr Chilima's UTM party told the AFP news agency there was some tension along the route as mourners demanded the procession stop so they could see the coffin.

“In Dedza, people blocked the road and demanded to see the coffin," Felix Njawala was quoted as saying.

The convoy proceeded after the mourners were pacified.

The party has condemned the acts of violence, and asked supporters to refrain from any violence or destruction.

"We cannot tolerate violence, Dr Chilima advocated for peace, let us do the same," state broadcaster MBC quoted UTM secretary general Patricia Kaliati as saying.

Mr Chilima, 51, died last Monday along with eight others when a military aircraft on an internal flight crashed in a forest in the north of the country amid bad weather.

On Sunday tens of thousands of Malawians turned up to a funeral service at the national stadium to pay tribute to him.

Mr Chilima had a special connection with people, especially the youth, and was considered a breath of fresh air in Malawian politics.

His party formed a coalition government with that of President Chakwera after contesting and winning the 2020 elections as alliance partners.

In 2022, Mr Chilima was arrested on corruption charges but these were dropped last month. He always denied any wrongdoing.

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Some of Mr Chilima’s supporters have been critical of how the government handled events leading to his death and loudly booed the president when he delivered his eulogy at the funeral service on Sunday.

Mr Chakwera has promised a full investigation into the cause of the crash.

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