Sadc sends team in Malawi after riots

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has sent a team to Malawi to meet with the country’s political leaders after deadly anti-government riots last month, an official said Thursday.

“We are concerned about what is happening in Malawi. Lives have been lost and we hope that all parties involved will soon solve their differences,” SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salomao told journalists.

He said the outcome of the mission would be tabled at the SADC summit in Angola in two weeks.

Last month 19 people were killed in cities across Malawi when security forces put down protests against President Bingu wa Mutharika’s government, accusing him of trampling on democratic freedoms and mismanaging the economy.

Malawians holdi anti-Mutharika demonstrations

Salomao also said the 15-member bloc remained committed to resolving the political impasse in Madagascar, where strongman Andry Rajoelina remains in power after toppling former president Marc Ravalomanana in a 2009 coup.

The SADC in June endorsed a roadmap to steer the country toward elections, but Ravalomanana and two former presidents refused to sign off on the deal owing to disagreements over the deposed leader’s plans to return home.

“The mediator in Madagascar is working closely with all parties to come up with a date and venue for the signing of the roadmap, and we hope that it is not far from now,” said Salomao.

The August 17-18 summit in Angola’s capital Luanda is also expected to discuss progress in Zimbabwe’s shaky unity government, after the regional bloc insisted that the parties follow through on plans to draft a new constitution that will lead to new polls.

“This also involves coming up with a date of elections that would be agreed upon by all parties,” Salomao said.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s party has insisted on holding elections this year, but his rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai insists that a vote is not posssible until both parties agree to further political reforms.—AFP

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