Malawian activist charged

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The Independent Online
LUSAKA (AP) - A Malawian pro-democracy activist arrested three months ago was formally charged for the first time yesterday, but on milder charges than prosecutors originally intended. Chakufwa Chihana, 52, a trade union leader and head of Malawi's outlawed Democratic Alliance, faces five years in prison if convicted of possessing seditious documents, bringing unlawful material into Malawi and preparing to act with seditious intent.

His lawyer, Bazuka Mhango, said prosecutors originally indicated they would charge Mr Chihana with sedition, which carries harsher penalties. 'Democracy is now on trial because Chihana has committed no crime,' Mr Mhango said.

Outside the magistrates' courtroom in the southern Malawian town of Zomba, demonstrators chanted: 'Keep on going, Chihana.'