Bingu ‘must apologise’ on war remarks, opposition demands

President Bingu wa Mutharika has been asked to apologise for the war threats he made at the opening of the eighth Agriculture Trade Fair in Blantyre.

The demand has been made by opposition  Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and People’s Progressive Movement (PPM).

“The President should apologise for that war statement. It was out of order,” MCP spokeswoman Nancy Tembo said.

PPM through Elliot Samu, the party spokesperson also demanded that President Mutharika must “officially and personally withdraw the war threats in [the] public statement and apologise to the nation if the people of Malawi are to take him seriously on his wish to negotiate with civil society.”

“PPM believes that if the war threats were said by any other person other than him or persons close to him, that person could be in trouble or under police custody to say the least,” says Samu in a statement.

Mutharika: Threatened war on critics

But presidential spin doctor Hetherwick Ntaba speaking on public broadcaster, MBC, clarified that the President was talking about war against poverty, diseases and other vices.

The opposition parties  however said Malawians don’t take seriously remarks by ‘rebuttal machines’ like Ntaba.

Mutharika said he had declared “war” on his critics, who are planning a vigil on September 21 to protest his government’s policies.

“Let’s fight a war if you want war. Enough is enough,” Mutharika said at the opening of an agricultural fair.

Mutharika said his government had powers to arrest protest organisers if the September vigil goes ahead.

“I can arrest you if I wanted, but I believe in democracy. But I will deal with you and I am threatening you that I will arrest you this time around,” he said.

Critics accuse Mutharika of becoming increasingly autocratic, presiding over an economic downward spiral and alienating the country’s foreign donors.

Last month 19 people were killed in the impoverished southern African country when police opened fire on anti-government protesters.

Civil society organisations in Malawi had earlier called for nationwide vigils on August 17 to protest Mutharika’s rule, but cancelled them after Mutharika made an appeal to “save lives and destruction of property.”

The President claimed “foreign elements” were sponsoring the protest plans.

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