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Malawi Religious Leaders Meet Amid Calls for President's Resignation

  • Peter Clottey

President Bingu Wa Mutharika of Malawi addresses the media after closing the AU summit in Uganda's capital Kampala. (File Photo - July 27, 2010)

President Bingu Wa Mutharika of Malawi addresses the media after closing the AU summit in Uganda's capital Kampala. (File Photo - July 27, 2010)

A leading member of the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) of religious leaders says the group is ready to work with the government to implement recommendations gathered during a conference in Blantyre last week.

Among the recommendations was a call for the administration of President Bingu wa Mutharika to “seek the mandate of the people” in finding solutions to the country’s economic and political problems. Another calls for Mutharika to step down if he does not allow a referendum on the country’s policies.

Reverend Maurice Munthali of the PAC expressed confidence the administration will embrace and implement the recommendations to help solve the country’s problems.

The group says it is still gathering all of the recommendations made by last week’s two day summit in Blantyre. It included participants from all sectors of society except for the government, which refused to attend.

“We want to believe that we have a very responsible government and that [it] will want to deliberately sit down with the people [who] are represented in this case by the Public Affairs Committee,” said Munthali. “We do not want to assume or speculate that the government will be [difficult]. No, because [this is] the exact thing the president has been looking.”

Religious leaders have come under intense government criticism after summit participants proposed a referendum on President Bingu Wa Mutharika’s failure to address the country’s challenges.

Munthali said President Mutharika has often called on Malawians to come up with good ideas “so that together we can solve the problems rocking our country at the moment.” He expressed hope the government will heed to the recommendations.

“We do not expect every recommendation [to] be palatable. These recommendations have come from the people of Malawi and for them to govern well, I think they will want to be a listening government,” said Munthali. “It’s not a matter of rejecting what people are proposing. It’s a matter of sitting down together and looking at how we could implement them, because PAC has not dictated any recommendation on the people.”

Reverend Munthali said the PAC’s board of directors met Wednesday to strategize on the best ways to implement the recommendations.

“They met to refine the document [which includes] the recommendations that came from the conference itself, but also to chart [a] way forward as a roadmap towards implementing all the ideas that came from up at the conference,” said Munthali. “We want to engage all the key stakeholders including the government and the head of state himself.”

Mutharika’s administration is under pressure by the opposition, as well as civil society groups, to resolve what they call the “crippling economic crisis” the country faces.

Munthali said the government should “willingly, sit down with us and then together see how best we can solve these problems... to make Malawi a better place to live in.”

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