8 Killed in Malawi Anti-Government Protests

Posted July 21st, 2011 at 9:45 am (UTC-5)
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Malawi's president has appealed for calm after at least eight people were killed in clashes between police and anti-government protesters.

President Bingu wa Mutharika addressed the nation by radio Thursday, saying he is willing to sit down and talk with opponents.

Violent protests erupted Wednesday in the country's three largest cities — Blantyre, Mzuzu, and the capital, Lilongwe. Officials say the deaths took place in Mzuzu as police battled demonstrators.

Witnesses say rioters looted shops and set fires during the protests, and that police fired tear gas.

Demonstrators are protesting fuel shortages, rising prices and eroding civil liberties in the southern Afircan country.

President Mutharika also 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.”

Pop star Madonna, who has adopted two children from Malawi and runs charities there, said in a statement she is deeply concerned about the violence. She said the country must find a peaceful solution to its problems so donors are confident their money will be used efficiently.