Saturday, August 27, 2011
Malawian President Declares 'War' on Critics
Malawi's President Bingu wa Mutharika said Thursday he had declared "war" on his critics, who are planning a vigil on September 21 to protest his government's policies.
"Let's fight a war if you want war. Enough is enough," Mutharika said at the opening of an agricultural fair.
Diverting from his prepared speech, Mutharika said his government had powers to arrest protest organisers if the September vigil goes ahead.
"I can arrest you if I wanted, but I believe in democracy. But I will deal with you and I am threatening you that I will arrest you this time around," he said.
Critics accuse Mutharika of becoming increasingly autocratic, presiding over an economic downward spiral and alienating the country's foreign donors.
Last month 19 people were killed in the impoverished southern African country when police opened fire on anti-government protesters.
Civil society organisations in Malawi had earlier called for nationwide vigils on August 17 to protest Mutharika's rule, but cancelled them after Mutharika made an appeal to "save lives and destruction of property."
The president said Thursday that "foreign elements" were sponsoring the protest plans.
"In the name of human rights, the activities of these groups are being underwritten by foreign elements to cause mayhem and insecurity," he said, adding: "I will hunt you down and bring you to justice."
Bingu Wa Mutharika, President of Malawi
He also accused businesses of "sabotaging" the country's economy, which has been crippled by shortages of fuel and foreign exchange.
Mutharika came to office in 2004 and was re-elected with a large majority in 2009.
But he has since been criticised for expelling rivals from the ruling party, expanding presidential power and signing laws that have restricted protests and media freedom.
The United States last month put on hold a $350-million grant for Malawi's energy sector out of concern over the authorities' crackdown on protests.
Britain has also suspended aid over a failure to address its concerns about "economic management and governance".
Fonte: All Africa News