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Malawi’s President Mutharika Demands End to Protest Strike

Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika demanded an end to a three-day strike organized by civil-society groups protesting against government policies and continuing fuel and foreign-currency shortages.

“You can’t bully me into submission,” Mutharika said on the state-owned Malawi Broadcasting Corp. television today. “Government can’t be taken to ransom by a few disgruntled individuals hiding in the name of civil society. If you stop people from going to work, I will deal with you.”

Nineteen protesters died in the southern African nation in clashes with police during protests organized by civil-society groups in July. United Nations-backed talks on ending a dispute between the groups and Mutharika broke down last week.

The groups, which include the Malawi Law Society and Council of Churches, called for workers to strike for three days from today instead of holding planned marches, Benedicto Kondowe, national coordinator of the Coalition of Civil Society on Quality Basic Education, said by phone from Blantyre, the commercial capital.

The call for a national strike is illegal, Mutharika said.

“I want you to open your shops tomorrow and nothing will happen to you or your property,” he said.

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