Malawi’s President Wants Anti-Government Rallies Cancelled

Posted August 14th, 2011 at 9:45 am (UTC-5)
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Malawi's president has called on activists to cancel anti-government rallies scheduled for Wednesday.

Civil society groups are planning so-called “vigils” to protest what they say is the government's failure to respond to their concerns.

Speaking on state television Sunday, President Bingo wa Mutharika said the events could turn violent. He said organizers should carefully review their position.

Last, month, 19 people were killed as police clashed with anti-government protesters in three Malawian cities.

The protests were inspired by chronic widespread poverty in the southern African nation and ongoing shortages of fuel and foreign currency.

President Mutharika has repeatedly vowed to hunt down the leaders of the July demonstrations.

On Friday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he is concerned about the situation in Malawi. He urged President Mutharika to “allow legitimate democratic debate” and to talk with civil society groups.

Britain froze aid to Malawi earlier this year after a diplomatic dispute. The dispute grew out of a leaked diplomatic cable in which Britain's ambassador to Malawi said President Mutharika was “autocratic and intolerant of criticism.”