Thursday, July 21, 2011

malawi's unrest

In April, the British ambassador to Malawi described the country’s President Mutharika as autocratic, saying governance in the country was deteriorating as rights violations increased. On Wednesday, thousands of Malawians took to the streets of several cities to demonstate against the government, defying a court injunction declaring the protests illegal as well as a presidential warning “not to be inspired by events in Egypt”. Private radio and television stations were banned from covering the protests.

A journalist in Malawi said that thousands of people took part in the marches in the capital, Lilongwe. The journalist, who asked to remain anonymous for her own safety described how “The impact of this demonstration on Bingu's government is that now the people of Malawi have realised the power of the masses. For several hours they took charge of the streets in Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu, chanting, looting, and in some areas causing havoc and the authorities were helpless.”

At least two people have reportedly been shot dead by security forces.

The protests were a response to Mutharika’s increasingly autocratic governing style, which has seen restrictions placed on press freedom, intolerance of criticismnand the expulsion from the ruling party of the country’s vice-president Joyce Banda. Mutharika declared “Before you start faulting me for being intolerant because I have sacked Joyce Banda from DPP , fault God for sacking Lucifer from heaven.”

The country, already one of the world’s poorest, is experiencing a severe fuel shortage, with rises in the cost of goods and transport.

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