Malawi - Police Arrest Leading Politician For Fiery Protests

Police in Malawi arrested an opposition leader on Tuesday for the torching of a police station in the capital by anti-government protesters,...

Police in Malawi arrested an opposition leader on Tuesday for the torching of a police station in the capital by anti-government protesters, the second high-profile arrest of a critic of President Bingu wa Mutharika in less than a week.
The opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) said the arrest of Atupele Muluz, one of the party's younger leaders and a son of a former president, was aimed at silencing critics of President Mutharika.

Anti-government protesters set fire to the police station, a police car and a police officer's house in the capital Lilongwe on Monday, raising tension in the African country, which was rocked last July by the police killing of 20 people during nationwide demonstrations against government policies and suspected corruption.
Police spokesman Davie Chingwalu declined to disclose the reasons for Atupele's arrest. Atupele's lawyer, Jai Banda, told Reuters that he had been charged with inciting violence.
Atupele, 33, is among a new generation of politicians and has a large following, especially among the youth who make up over 60 percent of the population.
"This is a politically motivated arrest," UDF secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala told Reuters.
Atupele's arrest follows the detention last weekend of the outspoken chairman of the government's Human Rights Commission, which has blamed Mutharika for inciting violence.
Malawi has averaged economic growth of more than 7 percent annually in recent years, but life has become increasingly difficult in the past year due to shortages of fuel, medicine and foreign currency.
Key donors including the United States and Britain have frozen aid over concerns about suspected human rights abuses and creeping autocracy and the country's aid programme with the International Monetary Fund is on hold due to disagreements between Lilongwe and the lender.
Atupele's arrest is likely to trigger more protests in Lilongwe, which is already under heavy police patrol. It is also likely to further sour relations with donors to the country, which has traditionally relied on aid for about 40 percent of its budget.
Mutharika, a former World Bank economist who was first elected in 2004, said if foreign aid donors were not happy, they should simply pack their bags.
Last week activists gave the president a 60-day deadline to account for his wealth, address the chronic fuel and dollar shortages and restore diplomatic ties with former colonial master and aid donor Britain. Similar demands led to the July protests.
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