News / Africa

18 Dead as Malawi Protests Continue Into Second Day

A protester burns vegetation in a street in Lilongwe, Malawi,  July 20, 2011
A protester burns vegetation in a street in Lilongwe, Malawi, July 20, 2011

Multimedia

Delia Robertson

At least 18 people have died in violent anti-government protests across Malawi Wednesday and Thursday with unconfirmed reports of further casualties. President Bingu wa Mutharika said he is willing to speak to civil society groups and opposition parties about their concerns.

In an address to Malawians broadcast on national radio Thursday, Mutharika condemned the protests, but appealed for calm and said it is time to take part in dialogue with his opponents and find solutions. The president was reacting to countrywide protests that erupted into violence in some areas.

The protests began with organized demonstrations Wednesday, but continued in a random way Thursday, often resulting in looting and other destructive behavior.

The president’s address failed to win favor, with many Malawians venting their anger and frustration on social networking sites on the Internet. Kalako, a Malawian in the capital who uses only one name, says that President Mutharika glossed over important issues.

“He has called for peace, that is very good; he has called for dialogue, that is very good," said Kalako. "But, like I say, the kind of dialogue that we want is not the kind of dialogue he did yesterday in a so-called public lecture, where [he] is talking about things that are not concerning the current concerns. But people are worried about the economy right now, and not about independence, or not. So personally I feel the president has not adequately addressed the needs or the concerns that are being raised by the protestors.”

Independent observers and activists say violence resulted in areas, such as the capital, Lilongwe, because police responded too harshly to peaceful demonstrators. Undule Mwakasungure, chairman of Malawi's Human Rights Consultative Committee, and one of the organizers of Wednesday’s protest, says that police acted aggressively against demonstrators.

“The unprofessional conduct of the police; where the police started to push people out of the central [assembly] points while people were still waiting to hear from civil society leaders on what would be the next move, so in that process people became violent, and the police also started  throwing tear gas,” said Mwakasungure.

Mwakasungure said President Mutharika's government has been passing laws that curtail democratic rights, that stifle dissent and free speech, and that this has resulted in anger building up over a lengthy period.

“The country is going through hardships in terms of the economy, but also we are seeing so many challenges in terms of our promotion of our democratic principles. We have seen the government passing undemocratic bills, the government suppressing the freedom of the press, the government threatening human rights defenders, the government suppressing the voice of Malawians,” said Mwakasungure.

In addition, six years of economic growth has been slowed by the global recession, causing fuel and foreign exchange shortages that have added to frustration and anger among Malawians.

Donor countries also have reduced funding over governance issues and in the case of Britain, a serious diplomatic row. This will deeply affect the ability of the government to provide essential social services because 40 percent of the overall budget is donor funded.

The army has been deployed in parts of Lilongwe and police are out in full force, patrolling, manning roadblocks, and clearing barricades and debris from the streets.  

Calls to the government spokesperson, the president’s office and other government departments for this story were not answered.



You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid