By Wanga Gwede, Nyasa Times
Malawi’s traditional chiefs on Monday made a passionate appeal to rights groups to call off the planned nationwide vigils against President Bingu wa Mutharika set for Wednesday in order to “save loss of life” and damage to property as it happened on July 20, saying they should give dialogue a chance.
The chiefs led by Inkosi ya Makosi M’mbelwa, Paramount Chief Lundu and acting Inkosi ya Makosi Gomani made the appeal at a news conference organised by Ministry of Local Government in Lilongwe.
“We appeal to the organisers to call off the vigils in order to save lives and destruction of property,” said Inkosi M’mbelwa.
“They should give dialogue a chance. All grievances should be presented to the Presidential Committee on National Dialogue,” he added.
Civil society groups, who last month staged unprecedented anti-government protests that left 19 people dead, announced they would stage the vigil “to resist bad economic and democratic governance.”
Activist Rafiq Hajat, one of the key organisers, said they will call off the protests only if President Mutharika meets conditions announced during their last demonstration on July 20. They include measures to halt the rising cost of living, high fuel prices, persistent power black outs, and water shortages.
They also want an improvement in what they see as the deteriorating state of human rights and governance.