Malawi threatens to 'smoke out' protesters
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Saturday 23 July 2011
Malawi's government yesterday sent troops into cities as President Bingu wa Mutharika threatened to "smoke out" those opposed to his strong-armed rule after an unprecedented wave of protests left 18 people dead.
Demonstrations over economic mismanagement and chronic fuel shortages escalated into pitched street battles this week, with police firing tear gas and live ammunition at protesters across the country, earning strong rebukes from the United States and Britain.
"In light of continued rioting and rumours of retaliation, we urge restraint from both sides," the US embassy in Pretoria said in a statement.
But as mourners buried seven Malawians killed during the protests, Mr Mutharika issued a warning to those seeking to oust him: "If you go back to the streets, I will smoke you out. Enough is enough."
Mr Mutharika, a former World Bank economist, was elected in 2004 and oversaw a period of strong economic growth. But he relied heavily on foreign aid, and his management of the economy began to unravel earlier this year when the British ambassador was expelled from Lilongwe after he was quoted in a leaked diplomatic cable as saying Mr Mutharika was "autocratic and intolerant of criticism".
Britain retaliated by expelling the ambassador in London and freezing $550m in much-needed aid. The Foreign Office has repeatedly raised concerns about economic mismanagement and a crackdown on human rights.
Britain's Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham, said in a statement yesterday: "The ongoing violence and reprisals by elements connected to President Mutharika's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) underline the concern that the UK has expressed about the state of democratic governance and human rights in Malawi. The rights of free assembly and expression guaranteed under the Malawian Constitution must be respected."
Protests were held across the country, with 10 people reported killed in Karonga and Mzuzu in the north, where people ransacked DPP offices. Eight people were killed in the capital, Lilongwe, and the financial hub, Blantyre, where looters targeted shops and businesses belonging to DPP officials. At least 200 people have been arrested.
- 1 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 2 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 3 Satellite full of sexually experimental geckos adrift in space, Russia loses control of mission
- 4 Exclusive: Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ in tatters as charity watchdog launches investigation into claims of Government funding misuse
- 5 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
MH17 crash: Investigators discover more human remains and 'huge section of plane'
Susan Sarandon on David Bowie romance: 'He's worth idolising'
Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Exclusive: Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ in tatters as charity watchdog launches investigation into claims of Government funding misuse
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
John Barrowman praised for Commonwealth Games opening ceremony gay kiss
£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...
Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...
£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...