See also:
» 04.03.2011 - Malawi continues war on donors
» 20.07.2009 - Malawi's opposition petition thrown out of court
» 21.05.2009 - Malawi's Muthakira assured of second term
» 20.05.2009 - Malawi oppposition calls for ballot recount
» 14.05.2009 - Malawi's opposition cry foul even before poll starts
» 09.04.2009 - Malawi opposition forms pact against Mutharika
» 08.04.2009 - Muluzi battling 'shame and glory' in courts
» 29.08.2008 - Malawi's budget finally approved

China wholesale online through

Houlihan's coupons

Finn autentiske matoppskrifter fra hele verden på
Gazpacho Børek Kartoffelsalat Taboulé Gulasj Albóndigas Cevapi Rougaille Japrak sarma Zwiebelbrot Klopse Giouvetsi Paella Pljeskavica Pica pau Pulpo a la gallega Flammkuchen Langosj Tapenade Chatsjapuri Pasulj Lassi Kartoffelpuffer Tortilla Raznjici Knödel Lentejas Bœuf bourguignon Korianderchutney Brenneslesuppe Proia Sæbsi kavurma Sardinske calamares

Autentiske matoppskrifter fra hele verden finner du på
Réunion Portugal Aserbajdsjan Serbia Tyskland Seychellene Bosnia Spania Libanon Belgia India Kroatia Hellas Italia Ungarn Komorene Georgia Mauritius Østerrike Romania Frankrike

Politics | Human rights | Society

Malawi govt pressured by protests, donors

Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika

© Malawi Finance Min/afrol News
afrol News, 15 February
- As a wave of social protests started yesterday in Malawi, the impoverished country's main donors are withholding aid over repressive media and anti-gay laws.

Yesterday, the long announced anti-government protests kicked off in Malawi's capital Lilongwe and in the northern town of Mzuzu. The main demand was for government to address high fuel prices and shortages, causing a large black fuel market in Malawi.

But the estimated 2,000 protesters - far less than expected - also included human rights activists protesting against the deteriorated rights situation and opposition groups calling for President Bingu wa Mutharika to step down.

The protests - somewhat inspired by events in Tunisia and Egypt and heavily propagated through social media - were met by a nervous government and had been prohibited by city authorities in both Lilongwe and Mzuzu. Riot police in Lilongwe almost outnumbered protesters, using massive force to disperse the manifestation.

"It was scaring to see the force that the police unleashed for this demonstration," Malawian journalist Francis Sitima reported from Lilongwe. "I have never seen such a number of policemen around any function and the armoury," he added.

The most prominent protesters were singled out by police and detained. This included leaders of the Malawian Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC), the leader of the country's Congress of Trade Union and organisers of the protests.

But protesters promise to keep the pressure up. HRCC leader Undule Mwakasungula, after being released from detention, promised "in two weeks, we will demonstrate across the country."

"They will shoot us, kill us but we will not relent," the human rights activist added. Mr Mwakasungula strongly protested the violent suppression of the peaceful protests, telling President M

Malawi human rights activist Undule Mwakasungula

© CRIDOC/afrol News
utharika that "this country is not a one man project."

The violent response to the protests and the detention of human rights and trade union leaders only add to the widespread impression that Malawi is turning more repressive. Not only Malawian protesters are now putting pressure on government to respect human rights - also Malawi's main donors are presenting a united front.

Malawi is among the world's most aid dependent nations. During the governance of President Mutharika - a former IMF official - aid levels from Western donors have steadily grown as Malawi has been seen to make progress regarding economic policies, the fight against corruption and in democracy and human rights issues.

This trend however has now stopped, with Western donors now agreeing that Malawi is experiencing major setbacks regarding human rights. Two issues add to the violent response to the protests: more repressive media laws and the criminalisation of gay and lesbian sexual relations.

Germany has taken a lead. Currently, euro 2.5 million of German budget aid for Malawi for 2010 are still held back and a further euro 5 million in budget aid for 2011 have been frozen. Deputy Development Minister Gudrun Kopp has just cancelled her planned trip to Malawi, quoting human rights setbacks.

The frozen aid funds would only be released when "the democratisation process sees positive developments," stated Ms Kopp. Currently, she explained the cancellation of her visit, there was "a lack of willingness towards a constructive dialogue over different laws by the Malawian government," referring to anti-gay legislation and media regulations.

The German move is p

Malawi's Justice Minister George Chaponda

© Malawi govt/afrol News
art of a joint action by Malawi's eight main donors. France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Norway, the UK and the US last week presented government with a joint statement condemning "certain negative trends in the country," referring to the same legislation.

"As partners and friends, we would like to recall that good governance and respect for human rights - including freedom of expression, observance of democratic principles, and freedom from discrimination - are the foundation upon which our partnership is built," the statement reads.

The toughest message so far was given by the US aid agency MCC, which in January signed a record US$ 350 aid deal to renovate Malawi's energy sector, has decided to delay the release of these funds until clarifications were given about the new legislation. The MCC only releases its massive impacts to countries with high human rights standards.

Meanwhile, the Malawian government is doing its utmost to withstand the pressure mounting from all sides. President Mutharika told protesters "not to take inspiration" from Egypt, as the situation in Malawi was not comparable. Justice Minister George Chaponda insisted "We are not ready to change the laws to satisfy donors."

But others believe President Mutharika will soon have to bow into the massive pressure. Malawi's independent 'Capital FM' radio today reports donors are "closely monitoring the developments taking place in the country," and would be alienated by the harsh reactions to Monday's protests.

Without donor support, President Mutharika will be faced with deteriorating social problems and a stagnating economy, causing even more protests.

- Create an e-mail alert for Malawi news
- Create an e-mail alert for Politics news
- Create an e-mail alert for Human rights news
- Create an e-mail alert for Society news

    Printable version

On the Afrol News front page now

Rwanda succeeds including citizens in formal financial sector

afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.

Famine warning: "South Sudan is imploding"

afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
Panic in West Africa after Ebola outbreak in Guinea

afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
Ethiopia tightens its already strict anti-gay laws

afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
Ethiopia plans Africa's biggest dam

afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.

front page | news | countries | archive | currencies | news alerts login | about afrol News | contact | advertise | español 

©  afrol News. Reproducing or buying afrol News' articles.

   You can contact us at