Malawi’s information minister has sharply denied the government has bribed organizers of a series of planned nationwide demonstrations to suspend or cancel their scheduled January 17 protests.
Moses Kunkuyu says President Joyce Banda’s government will not undermine the constitutional rights of the organizers.
“That is what the government cannot do,” said Kunkuyu. “Buying people off their plans to exercise their democratic rights is an infringement on the law itself. We cannot stop them by bribing them, no.”
Organizers of the protests are scheduled to hold a news conference Monday to address reports that they have taken bribes from the government to indefinitely suspend the demonstrations.
The organizers say the protests are aimed to pressure Banda’s government to jumpstart the economy.
They said the demonstrations will also be aimed at protesting what the group says are the sharp rise in the cost of living, the high inflation rate and uncontrolled fuel pricing.
Critics say the president has yet to implement austerity measures to reduce spending.
Kunkuyu said the administration wants to address concerns of the organizers.
“We have always said that the door is open for dialogue including those that are the forefront of the organization of the demonstration,” he said.
But he said organizers do not have the backing of the majority of Malawians to proceed with their protests.
“Over 99 percent of civil society organizations have tried to encourage those that are calling for the demonstrations to cancel those demonstrations,” said Kunkuyu.