April 19, 2011

British envoy asked to leave

Britain's envoy to Malawi has been asked to leave the country after he was quoted in a local newspaper expressing concern about the president's intolerance of criticism and about deteriorating human rights.

Malawi's Weekend Nation has published a story based on what it says is a cable Cochrane-Dyet sent to London. "The governance situation continues to deteriorate in terms of media freedom, freedom of speech and minority rights," Cochrane-Dyet is quoted as saying. Furthermore, he was said to have described President Bingu wa Mutharika as "combative" and saying he "is becoming ever more autocratic and intolerant of criticism", and saying rights activists report a campaign of intimidation through threatening anonymous phone calls. "They seem genuinely afraid," Cochrane-Dyet was quoted as saying. "The office of one high profile activist has allegedly been raided and his house broken into. There are unsubstantiated rumours that the ruling party is forming a youth wing modeled on the Young Pioneers used as a tool of repression during the country's three decade dictatorship." (Mail & Guardian)

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