Malawi demos set for September 21.

Police admitted that they don’t have enough tear-gas, rubber bullets

Malawian civil society groups pushing President Mutharika to explain his wealth, will hold demonstrations and a civil service strike from September 21 if the President does not address their demands in the petition.

Right groups at a meeting in Lilongwe

The Rights groups want the President to restore diplomatic relations with Britain, and are demanding that he solves the dollar and fuel crunch that has hit the country. Council for the Non-Governmental Organisations chairperson Voice Mhone said all the action plus the scheduled dialogue will involve all NGO’s in the country as agreed at a general meeting of the grouping in Lilongwe over the weekend.  “We agreed that we have dialogue as the first strategy and we accordingly appointed our dialogue team. But concurrently we will have demonstrations and vigils starting from September 21 as part of plying pressure to Government to respond,” said Mhone. Mhone also said the NGOs will not allow political parties to hijack the process advising them to come in the activities as ordinary participants without any political agenda. He said dialogue was not an end to exercising the democratic right to demonstrate, saying the move will help the country to have an active citizenry and a stay away will be called if solutions do not come forth from dialogue. “The general strike will be the last resort if the dialogue, the demonstrations and the vigil fail to bring tangible results. Our agenda is not regime change but have a government that is able to listen to the wishes and concerns of its people,” he said. Nineteen people were shot dead during the July protests, according to the Malawi Human Rights Commission preliminary report.  The August 17 protests were postponed after two days of negotiations between police and rights groups. Police convinced the groups to postpone the demonstration after they revealed that they have no riot gear, tear gas canisters and rubber bullets. “They told us that they only had live bullets and they feared that if the demonstrations went on, many people could be killed,” said one of the rights groups.