Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

10 dead after protests in Malawi

A protester burns vegetation in a street in Lilongwe, Malawi (AP)

Malawi's president has lashed out at anti-government demonstrators after two days of protests left at least 10 people dead in the southern African nation.

Hospital officials and activists said the victims had been shot and that at least 44 others in the northern city of Mzuzu alone were being treated for gunshot wounds.

President Bingu wa Mutharika vowed to "ensure peace using any measure I can think of" as protesters gathered for a second day in the impoverished country hit by fuel shortages and price hikes.

"If you break shops and banks will you have fuel? You demonstrated yesterday and throughout the night until today, but is there fuel today because of the demonstrations?" the president asked.

"I think God will do something to help us, will bless us, because these people are not being led by God, they are being led by Satan," he added.

Mr Mutharika first came to power in a 2004 election, and was re-elected in May 2009. But tensions have been growing this year over worsening fuel shortages. High unemployment alongside a deteriorating economic situation also threaten to reverse development gains made in the early years of his presidency.

On Wednesday, protesters attacked businesses belonging to the president's political allies. Looters in the capital of Lilongwe had targeted shops belonging to ruling party officials, witnesses said.

Human rights watchdog Amnesty International said eight journalists were beaten by police during the protests, and a female radio reporter was seriously wounded. Amnesty researcher Simeon Mawanza said the president's regime is becoming increasingly intolerant of dissenting voices.

"The tension there won't die down just because of yesterday's events," he said. "It could intensify, as people died at the hands of police."

Elections are not due again in Malawi until 2014, and Mr Mutharika is barred from seeking a third term.

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