News24

Malawi activists ask court to stop vigils

2011-09-19 22:35

Blantyre - Malawi pro-government activists have asked a court to block nationwide vigils planned by civil society this week, arguing a ban against the gatherings last month should still apply, a lawyer said on Monday.

Ralph Kasambara, who represents the civic groups, told AFP that five supporters of President Bingu wa Mutharika told the court that "organising any nationwide demonstrations, vigils or mass protests poses national security threats".

Vigils are planned for Wednesday across the poor southern African nation to press the government to make greater reforms following deadly riots in July.

The riots which left 19 people dead were fuelled by anger over chronic fuel and foreign currency shortages, with activists blaming Mutharika for failing to manage the agriculture-driven economy.

Mutharika has since fired his entire cabinet and hired new ministers, in a bid to turn around his government's performance, and meeting one of the protesters' key demands.

But the new cabinet includes his wife and his brother, seen as his potential successor.

Kasambara told court civic groups could not be made responsible for security issues around the vigils. A ruling is expected on Tuesday.