Another Injunction Against Malawi Activists

 

Armed police going after demostrators on July 20, many were shot dead

Malawi’s civil rights groups protesting against President Bingu wa Mutharika’s rule have been served with a fresh injunction restraining them from holding national wide protests in the southern African nation facing political and economic strife. The activists had given President Mutharika a September 21 deadline to explain his wealth, trim his 42 member cabinet, sale off the private jet, and restore diplomatic relations with Britain among other demands articulated in a petition presented to him in July. They warned of fresh mass action if he failed to respond to their demands by September 21. But the latest injunction, filed by Dr Yohannie Mlombe of college of medicine and obtained on August 23, wants to stop the planned September 21 protests. Dr Mlombe’s lawyer, Christopher Chiphwanya, explained that his client’s injunction seeks to preserve peace and ensure security.  “While the first injunction which was filed by James Willie and Rodrick Makapu sought to stop the simultaneous demonstrations this one seeks to restrain the activists permanently from holding protests because they are a threat to the business interests of many Malawians,” Chiphwanya said. The first demonstrations in July resulted into 20 deaths at the hands of police, a development that attracted global condemnation. Property belonging to the ruling party was destroyed as angry mobs took over the streets in three major towns of Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Blantyre.  Chronic poverty that has ensnared most of the 13 million people has left many Malawians, long known for their warmth in sub-Saharan Africa, angry with Mutharika.  He 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. Britain, Malawi’s largest bilateral donor, also suspended aid after Mutharika expelled its ambassador during a diplomatic spat. Last week Mutharika warned of war and bloodshed if protests go ahead. The warning came as the activists and government representatives started their first UN facilitated mediation talks. The dialogue is not moving on despite the UN’s statement yesterday that the talks reached an impasse but a stalemate.