1 Killed in Malawi Protests

Posted July 20th, 2011 at 12:45 pm (UTC-5)
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Malawi police clashed with protesters in major cities on Wednesday, leaving at least one person dead.

Civic leaders and witnesses say police moved to disperse protesters in the capital, Lilongwe, and the cities of Blantyre and Mzuzu. The protesters said they are demonstrating against bad governance and a weak economy.

Officials say one person died in Lilongwe, but offered no details on the cause of death.

The protesters, many dressed in red, took to the streets despite a court order late Tuesday barring the anti-government rallies.

Witnesses say angry demonstrators set fires in Lilongwe and Mzuzu, while police in Blantyre fired tear gas to disperse protesters who numbered in the hundreds.

Critics of Malawi's leader, President Bingu wa Mutharika, blame him for rising prices, eroding civil liberties and poor government policies.

Mr. Mutharika has been criticized for his handling of a diplomatic disagreement that prompted Britain to cut economic aid to its former colony.

The dispute began after Mr. Mutharika deported Britain's envoy for describing the president in a leaked cable as “autocratic and intolerant.”

The nationwide demonstrations were organized by a coalition of civic and rights groups as well as opposition parties.