BLANTYRE, Malawi — Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika on Sunday urged rights groups to call off nationwide vigils planned for Wednesday in order to “save lives and destruction of property”.
“I sincerely appeal to the organisers to reflect carefully, search their inner souls and call off the vigils in order to save lives and destruction of property,” Mutharika said in a live address on state television.
Civil society groups announced the vigils, to be held across the country, after Mutharika’s government failed to immediately address their concerns over the economy.
Last month 19 people were killed in the poor southern African country when police opened fire on those taking part in anti-government protests that lasted for two days.
Mutharika has faced growing anger over chronic fuel and foreign exchange shortages, refusing to listen to critics and reining in freedoms, prompting former colonial ruler Britain to cut aid days before the protest.
In his speech, Mutharika who is serving his second term, accused the Human Rights Consultative Committee, a coalition of 80 rights groups, and the Council for Non-Governmental organisations (CONGOMA) of disguising demonstrations as vigils.
“The vigils will turn ugly. Are they not concerned that more lives will be lost in the name of the vigil?” he asked.
The Malaxian president slammed the planned action as criminal rather than political, adding that the rights groups were paid money by “some European governments to force an unconstitional regime change.”
“In the name of human rights, the activities of these groups are being underwritten by foreign elements to cause mayhem and insecurity,” Mutharika asserted, adding; “I will hunt you down and bring you to justice.”
He said the economic problems bessetting the poor nation of 13 million people were not “unique to Malawi” as there is global economic turmoil.