Malawi court bans planned airport, border protests

A Malawi court ordered a ban on protest at the country's airports and border crossings on Friday, as authorities try to avert new post-election demonstrations aimed at shutting down key transport hubs.

The High Court order comes amid plans for fresh weeklong rallies by a coalition of human rights groups that has successfully organised a series of protests in the country since elections in May.

Judge Jack N'riva at the Blantyre court granted an order sought by the Malawi Revenue Authority to ban the protest actions at the country's international airports and border crossings.

"What the court said is that demonstrations can be held anywhere in the country but not at the airports and borders," judiciary spokesperson Agnes Patemba told AFP.

The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) and opposition parties are behind the protests against the disputed May elections, which saw President Peter Mutharika re-elected.

The protesters, who have called for the resignation of the head of the Malawi Electoral Commission, said they would abide by the court decision.

"But what we can assure Malawians is that the battle is still on," HRDC vice chairperson Gift Trapence said.

Thousands of Malawians have taken to the streets of various cities in recent months to protest the results of the May 21 elections, in which Mutharika was declared winner with 38.67 percent of the vote.

Mutharika on Wednesday ordered the country's security forces to crackdown on the planned protests and warned that any attempts to close down frontiers will be met with "all the necessary force".

"These people are waging war on our country and it's treasonous," he said.

Department of Civil Aviation deputy director James Chakwera had estimated that disruption of the borders would have cost the country one-billion-kwacha (about $1.3m).

The Constitutional Court is currently hearing a case brought by the opposition to have the election results annulled over irregularities.