Atupele backs January anti-government demo in Malawi-report

President of opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) Atupele Muluzi has supported the move by Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) to hold national-wide demonstration in protest against President Joyce Banda’s administration failure to address current economic challenges.

The demonstrations are slated for January and have also the blessings of Public Affairs Committee (Pac), multi-faith pressure group and Council for Non Governmental Organizations in Malawi (Congoma).

“We are fully in support of demonstration because it is a means of giving space to citizens to express their view,” Muluzi is quoted by Daily Times newspaper on Thursday.

He told the paper that demonstrating is an important democratic tool and that people who want to stake their grievances to the streets should be given space to do so and that the party sees sense in the exercise.

Atupele: Demo is a constitutional right

“We ask the authorities and those taking part to make sure the set demonstrations are done peacefully. If citizens want to express themselves, we are a democratic country and should allow the people to express themselves and that explains why we’re in support of it,” Muluzi, the UDF presidential candidate for 2014.

Atupele was Economic Planning and Development Minister in Banda’s ‘inclusive’ government until last month when he resigned citing issues of principle.

He said UDF sees taking economic hardship to streets as a manifestation of constitutional right that is an entitlement of every citizen.

The paper also quoted political analysts on the stand taken by the UDF.

University of Malawi political analyst Mustapha Hussein said: “Protesting is a constitutional right of every citizen, but I think UDF wants to show that it is autonomous and that it has its own agenda. One would expect UDF to stand with the government in the protests, but the party definitely wants to show that it is a separate entity from the government.”

Henry Chingaipe, a Lilongwe based political analyst, noted: “The relationship between UDF and the PP led-government was very loose and not consolidated. It was a relationship more of goodwill, but not based on ideologies and hence their coming out standing against the government.”

And renowned gender activist Seodi White  told The Nation daily newspaper that  President Joyce Banda should be the last person to deny people the right to demonstrate.

However, all those supporting the protests have warned people from using the demonstration to root and vandalize other people or government property just out of malice; instead they are calling for peaceful protest.

In May this year President Joyce Banda’s administration devalued the country’s currency apart from adopting Automatic Fuel Pricing Mechanism which has seen retail fuel prices rising on monthly basis.

Currently the cost of living is high with prices of goods rising almost every day despite government initiating Economic Recovery Plan to address the situation.

Banda, who came to power with her Peoples Party (PP) following the death in April of President Bingu wa Mutharika.

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