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Malawi riots spread as president blames Britain, IMF for economic woes

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Police sounded a warning that they would deal harshly with rioters. A statement from the police said the acts were barbaric and unlawful.

Minister of Information and Civic Education Symon Vuwa Kaunda said civil society and opposition leaders must ask their followers to stop the looting. “They said they wanted a peaceful demonstration on the 20th of July. Why then have these demonstrations spilled to the 21st of July? Why attack and intimidate people who are not concerned with these demonstrations?”

For its part, the National Media Institute of Southern Africa (NAMISA) condemned police for beating and intimidating journalists. In Lilongwe, police invaded a Presbyterian church and attacked journalists, politicians, and civil society leaders who had sought refuge there. They were beaten with sticks and gun butts.

In a statement, NAMISA said police have the responsibility to protect both civilians and journalists who were exercising their constitutional right to express themselves through peaceful demonstrations.

Who's to blame for Malawi's economic woes?

For much of yesterday afternoon, there was a strange disconnect between the violence going on out doors, and the president’s attempt to cajole opposition and civil society leaders to, in effect, behave themselves. In an afternoon “lecture,” Mutharika told Malawians that it was not his government’s fault that food and fuel prices are rising, and that beneficial foreign exchange rates are difficult to obtain. Instead, he blamed the British government’s aid policies and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for Malawi’s failure to stabilize its economy since independence in 1964.

The IMF, at present, has counseled Malawi to devalue its currency in order to attract more foreign investment and to reduce the cost of goods bought and sold in Malawi.

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