Clergy rubbishes Bingu peace overture

By Lusubilo Sichali, Nyasa Times

A Balaka faith-based organization, Clergy Initiative for Integral Development (CIDE), has added its voice in trashing President Bingu wa Mutharika’s call on Monday that Malawians should remain peaceful as Muslims observe the holy Month of fasting, Ramadan.

The president, apparently in reaction to a planned mass action on August 17, 2011 against his increasingly unpopular economic policies and poor governance record, told the nation in a public address that Islam was a religion of peace and as such citizens ought to respect Islam by maintaining peace and order.

Mtambo: Peace not only for Ramadan

But chairman for CIDE, Reverend Father Michael Mtambo told Nyasa Times in an exclusive interview in Blantyre on Tuesday that the president’s call was both misplaced and mistimed.

He said Mutharika should not call for peace because it is the month of Ramadan but rather he should call for peace forever.

“Does he imply that when Ramadan is over, people can now demonstrate and some become violent as was the case on July 20,” wondered Father Mtambo, arguing too that it was difficult for Malawians today to believe and respect such call from Mutharika because the president has always backtracked on earlier calls for peace and dialogue.

“He does not match his words with actions; how does expect people to take him seriously this time round. I am not saying he cannot call for peace and dialogue but he must practice what he says,” the man of God reasoned.

He said as long as the president does not show genuine concern about the plight of Malawians in the current difficult economic environment, he risks being ignored on his peace and dialogue initiatives and that people will continue to take to the streets.

“He must offer genuine solutions to the current social, economic and political problems otherwise his calls may continue to fall on deaf ears,” the reverend said.

A coalition of civil society organizations led by the Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) of rights activist Undule Mwakasungula mobilized Malawians in major urban centres to march and petition the president and his government on July 20, 2011.

They have set August 17, 2011 for another mass protest should their petition not be responded to adequately.

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