Malawi president vows not to answer call to resign

Mar 22, 2012, 4:02 PM

Associated Press

BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) – Malawi’s president said Thursday he won’t bow to calls for his resignation before his term ends 2014 and says he may even aim to become “life president.”

President Bingu wa Mutharika said he will not leave his official duties “even when the going gets tough.”

A top civic rights body has called on him to quit over a crackdown against opponents _ including the arrest Tuesday of an ex-president’s son _ and his handling of a deepening economic crisis in the impoverished southeast African nation.

At a meeting on water conservation, Mutharika departed from a prepared speech to declare he won’t call a referendum on his rule.

“This is my answer … I won’t answer again,” he said. “According to laws, I’m supposed to step down in 2014 but I want to remind you that I have an unassailable majority so that if I want to stand for a third term, or a fourth term or indeed be a life president I can do it, even those in opposition can vote for me.”

It was his first response to the calls by the respected Public Affairs Committee for him to immediately announce a referendum to be held within 90 days to renew his presidential mandate, or quit his post within 60 days.

Mutharika was elected in 2004 on the ticket of the United Democratic Front party of former president Bakili Muluzi.

Muluzi’s 34-year-old son Austin was arrested Tuesday after violence at a political rally he addressed on Sunday. Police said rioters torched a police station, freed prisoners from the cells and stole a rifle.

Mutharika had founded his own Democratic Progressive Party after nine months in power in 2004 and forced some of his political allies into opposition.

On Thursday, Mutharika said he overwhelmingly won a second five-year term in 2009 and as a result he could decide whether to run for a third term in 2014 or stay in power longer. Malawi’s constitution limits the president to two terms.

He said was not ready for further dialogue with his detractors.

His party won more than half of parliament’s seats in 2009; dozens of independent lawmakers also pledged their allegiance to him.

Succession squabbles immediately after the elections slowed the economic gains of Mutharika’s first term and scared away traditional donor nations.

Mutharika, a former World Bank economist, expelled the top British top diplomat in Malawi after a leaked cable to Britain’s foreign minister last year described him as “increasing becoming autocratic and intolerant of criticism”.

Britain, Germany and U.S. and European Union donor agencies and Western financial institutions later cut or suspended aid and loans. That led to acute shortages of hard currency and a burgeoning illegal black market in money, gasoline and other essential goods including medicine.

Violence erupted during rare anti-government demonstrations on July 20 last year in which at least 19 protesters died in police action to crush protests against Mutharika.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

World News

(Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images for BoF VOICES)...
Associated Press

Vivienne Westwood, influential fashion maverick, dies at 81

Vivienne Westwood, an influential fashion maverick who played a key role in the punk movement, died Thursday at 81.
1 month ago
FILE - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during his first Cabinet meeting flanked by his ...
Associated Press

Rishi Sunak: UK’s ex-Treasury chief gets his shot at PM job

LONDON (AP) — Rishi Sunak ran for Britain’s top job and lost. Then he got another shot — and the chance to say “I told you so.” The former U.K. Treasury chief was runner-up to Liz Truss in the contest to replace the scandal-plagued Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and prime minister. But Truss […]
3 months ago
Britain's Prime Minister Liz Truss addresses the media in Downing Street in London, Thursday, Oct. ...
Associated Press

Truss quits, but UK’s political and economic turmoil persist

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Liz Truss quit Thursday after a tumultuous and historically brief term marred by economic policies that roiled financial markets and a rebellion in her political party that obliterated her authority. After just 45 days in office, Truss became the third Conservative prime minister to be toppled in as many […]
3 months ago
People receive medical treatment at the scene of Russian shelling, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 1...
Associated Press

Russia unleashes biggest attacks in Ukraine in months

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia retaliated Monday for an attack on a critical bridge by unleashing its most widespread strikes against Ukraine in months, a lethal barrage that smashed civilian targets, knocked out power and water, shattered buildings and killed at least 14 people. Ukraine’s Emergency Service said nearly 100 people were wounded in the […]
4 months ago
This illustration made available by Johns Hopkins APL and NASA depicts NASA's DART probe, upper rig...
Associated Press

NASA spacecraft smashes into asteroid for defense test

A NASA spacecraft rammed an asteroid at blistering speed Monday in an unprecedented dress rehearsal for the day a killer rock menaces Earth.
4 months ago
Associated Press

At least 9 killed as Iran protests over woman’s death spread

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Clashes between Iranian security forces and protesters angry over the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody have killed at least nine people since the violence erupted over the weekend, according to a tally Thursday by The Associated Press. The scope of Iran’s ongoing unrest, the worst in […]
4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Malawi president vows not to answer call to resign