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Tragic Accident at Malawi VP’s Funeral Convoy Leaves Four Dead 

Four people, including a pregnant woman, were killed after a vehicle in the convoy carrying the body of the late Malawi Vice-President Saulos Chilima struck mourners on Sunday night. 

The accident occurred as the convoy traveled from the capital, Lilongwe, to Mr. Chilima’s home village for his burial.

Police reports indicate that twelve other individuals were injured and are currently receiving treatment in the hospital. The incident followed clashes between local residents, police, and soldiers who were escorting the funeral convoy.

Mr. Chilima, who passed away in a plane crash a week ago, is set to be buried later today in his home district of Ntcheu, approximately 180 km (112 miles) south of Lilongwe. Thousands of Malawians had gathered along the route to pay their respects as the coffin was transported for burial.

Tensions escalated as the procession neared Mr. Chilima’s home, with some mourners throwing stones at government vehicles and officials. Amidst the commotion, one vehicle veered off the road, hitting a group of mourners.

Felix Njawala, a spokesperson for Mr. Chilima’s UTM party, mentioned that in Dedza, mourners had blocked the road, demanding to see the coffin. The convoy was able to proceed after the mourners were pacified.

The UTM party has condemned the violence and urged supporters to maintain peace. “We cannot tolerate violence, Dr Chilima advocated for peace, let us do the same,” stated UTM Secretary General Patricia Kaliati, as quoted by state broadcaster MBC.

Mr. Chilima, aged 51, died last Monday alongside eight others when a military aircraft crashed in a forest in northern Malawi amid adverse weather conditions. On Sunday, tens of thousands attended a funeral service at the national stadium to honour him. Known for his connection with the youth and seen as a refreshing figure in Malawian politics, Mr. Chilima’s death has sparked both sorrow and outrage among his supporters.

President Lazarus Chakwera, whose party formed a coalition government with Mr. Chilima’s in 2020, faced criticism from some of Mr. Chilima’s supporters during his eulogy at the funeral service. President Chakwera has promised a thorough investigation into the plane crash.

In response to the recent unrest, security has been heightened throughout Ntcheu district as preparations for Mr. Chilima’s burial continue.

Source: BBC New Africa

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