Malawi Leader Calls on Party Loyalists to Fight His Critics

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Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika told the police to collect as much as 5 million kwacha ($33,160) from any organization planning demonstrates in case there are damages, and called on his party supporters to protect him.

“I don’t care whether this is constitutional or not,” Mutharika told a rally yesterday in the commercial capital, Blantyre, referring to the payments. “I am leaving my critics in your hands.”

Malawi’s Council for Non-Governmental Organizations warned Mutharika that they would organize protests if he didn’t move to ease a fuel shortage and tackle governance issues, the Nation reported on Feb. 24, citing the council’s chairman, Voice Mhone. Ten days earlier, police blocked a demonstration against the fuel shortages and arrested the organizers.

Mutharika called on members of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party “to bring discipline to this country.”

“I have been patient for the last seven years and people think I am a fool,” the president said. “Do you think I am a fool? I have never been a fool, I am not a fool and I don’t intend to become a fool.”

Civil society organizations condemned Mutharika for inciting violence. Rafiq Hajat, chief executive officer of the Institute for Policy Interaction told Joy radio station today that there will be chaos if DPP supporters heed the president’s call.

To contact the reporter on this story: Frank Jomo in Blantyre via Johannesburg at fjomo@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin in Johannesburg at asguazzin@bloomberg.net.

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