Bingu blames European governments for Malawi demos

By Evelyn Chibwe, Nyasa Times

President Bingu wa Mutharika has accused unnamed European governments of bankrolling Malawi non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in order for them to organize mass demonstration against his government and effect unconstitutional regime change.

Speaking when he addressed the nation on Sunday via the Malawi Broadcasting (MBC) radio and television, Mutharika said the said governments were using international NGOs operating in Malawi as conduits through which they pay the local NGOs.

There are planned mass demonstrations in Malawi on August 17, 2011 against the Mutharika administration failure to adequately respond to the worsening social, economic and political situation in Malawi. Similar protests were staged on July 20, 2011 and in reaction, police shot and killed at least 18 people.

Mutharika: Claims western government are bankrolling regime change agenda in Malawi

Civil rights activists championing the August 17 protests have indicated that this time round, the protests would take a form of a “vigil” where people would converge at one place and candles lit to avoid getting into confrontation with state security agents including the police.

But in his address, President Mutharika said the current problems in Malawi are not unique as the global economy was in turmoil. He cited the United States of America as facing serious economic problems, saying in the US, the credit rating was down-graded.

He also said countries like Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece and France were also experiencing economic woes because of heavy debts, insisting Malawi was no exception.

He also said that Malawi had experienced similar problems of forex and fuel shortage during the previous two administrations under the late Kamuzu Banda and Bakili Muluzi but people did not take to the streets.

The 77-year-old Mutharika said the demonstrations during his time were a mere excuse by opposition parties to oust him from power unconstitutionally because the alleged excuses for staging demonstrations were not supported by the facts on the ground.

He said, nonetheless,  his government was tolerant of dissenting views, claiming that since he became President in 2004, there are no political prisoners; no-one has been killed or assassinated for expressing their political views and that no Bishops, pastors and traditional chiefs have been beaten up “as was the case before”.

But a political commentator has described remarks as crocodile tears projecting him as a leader under extreme pressure and very unpopular.

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