News

    Meeting of Malawi Religious Leaders Said Not Aimed at Government

    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)
    Peter Clottey

    A two-day conference of religious leaders aimed at finding solutions to Malawi’s economic and political challenges is scheduled to end Thursday in the commercial capital, Blantyre.

    Reverend Maurice Munthali, a leading member of the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) of religious leaders, which organized the summit, denied the objective of the meeting was to demand a change in government.

    “We had two presentations, the first one being the political scenario and status of Malawi, and then we looked at the economic status of our country,” said Munthali.  “We are looking forward to today’s presentation on the political gaps and opportunities, and it is our belief and hope that the conference is also going to deliberate on these very comprehensively before we can come up with suggested solutions and recommendations.”

    The government declined PAC’s invitation to attend the two-day meeting. Religious leaders, who have attended, have come under intense pressure after government officials said the summit will propose a referendum on President Bingu Wa Mutharika’s failure to address the country’s problems.

    But, Munthali said the summit doesn’t have any objectionable motives, except to highlight what he said are the lamentations of citizens.  He said the mandate of PAC’s conference conforms to Malawi’s constitutional provisions.

    “We hope to get the views from Malawians about the way things are in Malawi today.  There is nothing sinister in it,” said Munthali.  “When the conference concludes today, there will be all sorts of recommendations, suggestions and even demands by Malawians of good will.  It is our hope that every suggestion that is going to come out of this conference is going to help the economy, politics and the social life of the government.”

    Munthali said it was an unfortunate decision by the government not to attend the two-day conference.

    “They are the key players in as far as implementing the recommendations coming out of this conference are concerned,” said Munthali.  “We do not understand that a very peaceful conference like this one, and very conservative in nature, cannot be attended by players from the government side.”

    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.

    Supporters of the government say the conference is a pretext to call for mass demonstrations against Mutharika’s government.  But, Munthali maintains the objectives of the summit are to find pragmatic solutions to the country’s problems.

    “Those views [from Malawians] as anyone else can predict are a lamentation of the situation at hand today.  People are lamenting over our declining and nose-diving economy [and] over the political status which is in disarray,” said Munthali.  “When people are lamenting over what is happening in their daily lives that cannot be deemed as opposing the government.  Nobody is going to clap hands when they are going hungry.”

    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.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora