Malawi civil rights groups have released a programme for their new round nationwide protests for Wednesday September 21 against President Bingu wa Mutharika.

The organisers said their protest marches will be held simultaneously in Blantyre, Lilongwe, Zomba and Mzuzu cities under the theme: ‘Uniting to Resist Bad Economic and Democratic Governance – Another Malawi Is Possible.’

Rights activist and vigil organiser Billy Mayaya said marchers are asked to wear red colours.

In their message to Malawians, the organisers said “as a result of government’s failure to address concerns raised in our petition of 20th July 2011, Civil Society and various stakeholders have organized a country-wide vigil to demand immediate redress for our concerns. These nation-wide vigils will take place on Wednesday, 21th September 2011.”

Mayaya: Peaceful vigil and wear anything red

 

“We are appealing to all Malawians to put on anything red (trousers t-shirts, caps, scarves or any red piece of cloth draped upon one’s person) on 21 September. All drivers are urged to hoot and, where possible, offer lifts to the venues.”

The organisers also appealed to all participating Malawians and well wishers to come along with or provide food, drinks and water.  In addition, they asked people to remember to bring a candle.

“Employers are urged to release all their workers including domestic servants for this noble cause,” the message said.

The organisers said it will be a “peaceful vigil” and appealed to all Malawians across the country to be discipline at all times.

“We therefore urge the Police Service to protect the citizens and ensure that no live ammunition or any form of force is used.

“Government, in particular, is urged to allow citizens to carry out these peaceful vigils without any constraint, harassment or impediment.”

The message said September 21 will be a national day of action “to make a difference by being heard and counted.”

The organisers said in Blantyre, the demonstration assembly will be at the Old Town Hall in Victoria Avenue. In Lilongwe, the assembly will be from the Parliament roundabout to Capital Hotel roundabout extending to Civic Centre Offices.  In Zomba the assembly will be at the district assembly’s offices along Mkulichi road while in Mzuzu the demonstrators will start from Old Stage Coach roundabout to Civic offices roundabout.

All district stakeholders will assemble at the district assemblies’ grounds.

Activists want the president to respond to a petition calling on him to account for his wealth, address the chronic fuel and foreign currency shortages and restore diplomatic ties with former colonial master and major aid donor Britain.

U.N. officials in Malawi had negotiated a peace to prevent further protests, but rights groups pulled out of the process when properties of two leading activists were hit in petrol bomb attacks in the past two weeks by ruling party agent.

Malawi Human Rights Commission said President Mutharika was partially to blame for the attacks following his ‘war’ cry speeches and threats to “smoke out” his critics.

In July, 19 people were killed during two days of anti-government demonstrations.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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