Malawi threatens to 'smoke out' protesters

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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Midweight

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Front End Developer

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks