Court injunction against Sept 21 demo

A  haematologist based at College of Medicine in Blantyre, Dr. Yohannie Billy Mlombe, has obtained a court injunction restraining organisers of the September 21 nationwide demonstrations in Malawi from protesting against government’s economic and governance failures.

Lawyer Christopher Chiphwanya confirmed that on August 23 he obtained an injunction on behalf of his client Mlombe who is seeking a court’s declaration that the defendants’ step to conduct nationwide demonstrations/vigils/mass protests without taking steps to ensure peace and security is unconstitutional and a threat to national security as well as to his right and property.

Mlombe is also seeking an order permanently restraining the defendants from holding the protests.

Chiphwanya: Lawyer for Mlombe

The lawyer said Mlombe’s injunction “seeks to preserve peace and ensure security.”

Civil society leaders have indicated that they were going to challenge any court order to ensure that Malawians are allowed to exercise their constitutional right to demonstrate on September 21.

The demonstrations are meant to voice concerns over chronic fuel and foreign exchange shortages and that President Bingu wa Mutharika is infringing democratic freedoms .

Demands for a smaller cabinet were included in a petition handed to authorities by activists on July 20 when deadly riots erupted after police moved to put down demonstrations criticising Mutharika’s governance.

The country is also targeting a “zero-deficit budget” unveiled this year in which recurrent expenses like government salaries are set to be paid out of local resources.

Worsening donor ties and a spat with former colonial power Britain, triggered twin expulsions of envoys, followed by London’s cutting of direct aid last month over concerns over economic management and governance.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in June said its programme with Malawi was off-track as the government had failed to review a US$79,4 million credit facility meant to cushion the chronic foreign exchange shortages.

Since the riots, the central bank has devalued the local kwacha currency, which the government had resisted despite the IMF arguing it was over-valued.

Government representatives and civil society leaders have also held United Nations mediated talks and agreed this week that an opposition vigil should be allowed to go ahead by September 21.

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