Malawi changes national flag
Blantyre - A controversial change to Malawi's national flag of 46 years reflects a new era since 1964 independence from Britain, state radio on Sunday quoted President Bingu wa Mutharika as saying.
"Things have changed and we are in a new era," President Bingu wa Mutharika told a Lilongwe rally where he unveiled the new flag on Saturday, saying that flags depict developments in a nation.
A full sun over black, red and green replaces the independence flag's half-rising sun which Mutharika said was "inherited from the British as part of their claim that they had brought light in darkness".
"We cannot continue to be at dawn in 2010 as we were in 1964," he added.
"We don't have to live permanently in the past. There comes a time things have to change and the change of the flag was no exception."
Critics have slammed the change, saying consultations on the issue were biased and that the issue should have been settled by referendum.
The old flag was introduced by the Malawi Congress Party, led for decades by the late dictator Kamuzu Banda. Spokesperson Nancy Tembo said the change was disrespectful to the nation's history which the flag had symbolised.
Kennedy Makwagwala, secretary general of the former ruling United Democratic Front also criticised the change.
"Malawi had not achieved any meaningful development worth changing the flag for (...) there is still starvation in this country."
Mutharika assented to a bill authorising the change last week, after parliament passed an act to change it in July.
"The symbol of the half rising sun at independence made a lot of sense because it was dawn for freedom and hope," information minister Leckford Thotho told AFP. "But there has been a lot of development that has taken place since and we cannot still be at dawn."