Monday, May 9, 2011

Malawi leader defends British envoy expulsion

Malawi's President, Bingu wa Mutharika, has for the past 48 hours spoken out twice about the much-reported expulsion of British High Commissioner to Malawi, Fergus Cochrane-Dyet.
Mutharika first touched on Malawi's hottest issue on Saturday, during the elevation of two Ngoni chiefs in the Northern Region; and repeated his sentiments yesterday, during his Democratic Progressive Party's mammoth-crowd rally held in former Finance Minister, Goodall Gondwe's, constituency.
On Saturday, Mutharika said Cochrane-Dyet was interfering in Malawi's domestic affairs- notably, politics.
On Sunday, Mutharika cupped it all by describing Cochrane-Dyet as big-headed.
"In European citizens' gardens, they have a bird called Robbin. Should they (Europeans) dismantle the Robbin's nest because it is small; is there any justification in destroying the Robbin's nest simply because it is not an Eagle's (nest)?
"Malawi is small, yes, but we are a sovereign state. In fact, Britain, the US, Russia and Malawi all cast one vote in United Nations votting sessions. So, why belittle us? Yes, we are small, but we deserve respect," said Mutharika.
He then faulted what he called "some stupid Europeans" for listening to the misguided advice of "stupid opposition leaders".
Mutharika also touched on the issue of his growing dictatorial tendencies, saying:
"If I ask all people to pay a deposit before conducting demonstrations, is that autocracy? I think not; I am just protecting people who may suffer from damage caused by the demonstrators. If the opposition, donors and NGOs tell me who will pay for any damages inflicted on innocent people during demonstrations, then I will drop this issue. Otherwise, I maintain that demonstrators pay a deposit, and also maintain that this is not being autocratic but reasonable."
Mutharika also maintained that he deserved to be protected by his party youths from detractors and critics.
"I need this protection as DPP and State President. Don't just watch people criticise me and get away with it. Again, this is not dictatorship but the way things ought to be."
Mutharika has come under a spate of criticism for poor governance, disrespect for minority rights, the closure of University of Malawi colleges- Chancellor College and The Malawi Polytechnic-, and cracking down on dissent and intellectual discourse.

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