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Posted at 11:47 AM ET, 07/21/2011

Malawi protests leave nine dead, but president refuses to step down


Anti government protesters demonstrate in Lilongwe on July 20. (AMOS GUMULIRA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
At least nine people were killed in Malawi on Wednesday after security forces clashed with demonstrators protesting the government.

New clashes at businesses and politicians’ offices were reported Thursday, as a coalition of more than 80 rights groups took to the streets to protest repression of democratic gains, severe fuel shortages and a lack of foreign currency, the Financial Times reported.

President Bingu wa Mutharika refused calls to step down, but promised in a conciliatory address to the nation the he would talk to the opposition. But protests in the commercial city of Blantrye showed no signs of stopping, with some demonstrators burning flags that bore Mutharika’s image.

Just read Bingu's speech. The man is certifiably mad & in denial. #July20 #Malawi http://scr.bi/nOpKQQless than a minute ago via HootSuite Favorite Retweet Reply

Is the “Arab Spring spreading South of the Sahara?” Global Voices, a Web site of the international blogger community asked. “It's winter in Africa, south of the Equator, but the temperature in Malawi feels more like Spring — particularly that of the recent Arab pedigree.”

Earlier this month, the U.K. suspended budgetary support to Malawi, accusing the government of human rights abuses and damaging the economy by having an overvalued exchange rate.

But former vice president Cassim Chilumpha says it is more about democracy.

“We want to be heard, we want the government to start listening to alternative voices. The problem with the government is that it thinks it is the only [voice] of this country. ... That is not democracy.”

Watch him speak at a protest in the commercial city of Blantyre:

Protesters tweeted using the hashtags #redarmy#Malawi and  #20July, many of them mocking the president’s words, “Those of you who have started this, I know you.”

Others warned of looting in the area:

Looters were after the post office n filling station but the army came in quick #Malawiless than a minute ago via Mobile Web Favorite Retweet Reply


(IMAGE FROM YFROG USER Wiza Jalakasi )

See a map of protests in the cities of Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu below:


(IMAGE FROM GOOGLE MAPS)

By  |  11:47 AM ET, 07/21/2011

 
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