Malawi Groups Threaten to pull out of UN Negotiations


Mutharika: Has threatened war against rights groups

Malawi civil society groups fear that President Mutharika’s threats on Thursday may derail the mediation process which commenced yesterday in Lilongwe. The groups postponed their August 17 protests to give mediation a chance and engaged the UN to facilitate the process. The mediation started on Thursday between the groups and a team appointed by the President. But while the mediation was going in Lilongwe, the President in Blantyre declared war on his critics saying that he is ready to face them. “The concern is that the President is not showing any political will to the dialogue process as well as all issues of concern raised by Malawians,” said Voice Mhone, head of the groups’ negotiating team. Mhone said that the groups have since written a complaint to the UN resident representative in Malawi, Richard Dictus.“Being the first citizen, he should be the first person to respect the dialogue process,” said Mhone. The groups have given the President a September 21 deadline to listen to their demands, promising fresh protests if he does not address the chronic poverty that has ensnared most of the southern African country’s 13 million people. They also want the President to explain his wealth, restore diplomatic relations with Britain, and sale the private jet that he bought in 2009. Mutharika, a former World Bank economist, has seen his country lose close to $1 billion in foreign aid due to rising tension with donors made worse by his government’s violent crackdown on the July protests that left 19 people dead. The UK also suspended aid after Malawi expelled its ambassador during a diplomatic spat.