Outspoken critic of Malawi's leader jailed
16 February 2012, 13:45
Blantyre - An outspoken opponent of Malawi's president who once served
as his attorney general says the administration sent thugs to petrol
bomb his law office - and the government critic ended up in jail.
Kasambara was arrested on Monday, accused of kidnapping and torturing
three men he told reporters confessed to his bodyguards that they had
been sent after him by the government.
Information Minister Patricia Kaliati denies Kasambara's accusations, and Kasambara denies the kidnapping and torture charges.
that President Bingu wa Mutharika is intolerant of criticism and
violating human rights has led to protests and strained relations
between Malawi, among the world's poorest countries, and its foreign
At least 19 people were killed by police when anti-government demonstrations last year degenerated into looting.
the Kasambara case, court clerks who have been striking for higher pay
for weeks suspended their strike to allow a bail hearing because lawyers
have supported the clerks. On Tuesday, a magistrate ordered Kasambara
released. Prison authorities balked at first, saying the order came too
late in the day Tuesday. Kasambara was released Wednesday and greeted by
hundreds of his supporters, colleagues and journalists outside a
Hours later, police arrested him again at his
home, saying his bail procedure was flawed. Supporters again gathered at
the jail, and police wielded batons to disperse them.
Kasambara's arrest came days after weekly newspapers quoted him criticizing Mutharika.
have options. They should ask the president to resign or they should
impeach him. He wants to be a dictator," Kasambara was quoted as telling
The Weekend Nation.
Mutharika, a former World Bank official, was
once heralded by economic analysts and was overwhelmingly re-elected in
2009 by voters who embraced his anti-corruption, anti-poverty pledges.
But the country's economy has struggled in the last year, and questions
about Mutharika's commitment to democracy and human rights became an
Mutharika expelled a British diplomat who had described
his as "becoming ever more autocratic and intolerant of criticism".
Former ruler Britain subsequently indefinitely suspended aid to Malawi,
which later withdrew its expulsion order.
The European Union, Germany, Norway and the US have also halted or suspended assistance to Malawi, raising governance questions.