Malawi. President Bungu wa Mutharika’s authoritarian rule was increasingly questioned. One of the president’s toughest critics was the human rights activist and former Justice Chancellor Ralph Kasambara, who in February accused the head of state of being dictatorial and demanding he step down. Kasambara’s office was then subjected to an assassination attempt which ended with Kasambara himself being arrested, accused of assaulting his guards by the guards. He was eventually released.
In March, riots in the capital Lilongwe erupted since the tear gas police tried to stop a regime critic from speaking. It was Atupele Muluzi, the son of the country’s former president and popularly popular. Kravaller erupted and Muluzi’s supporters set fire to a police station. After a couple of days of rioting, Muluzi was arrested, charged with rioting.
- AbbreviationFinder.org: Provides most commonly used acronyms and abbreviations for Malawi. Also includes location map, major cities, and country overview.
In April, disputed President Bungu wa Mutharika died suddenly in a heart attack. He was 78 at the time. Many expected his brother, Foreign Minister Peter Mutharika, to take over, but the constitution was followed and Vice President Joyce Banda sworn in as new head of state.
Banda became Africa’s second female president. She expressed a hope of reconciliation as there were strong contradictions between her and the former president since she was excluded from the ruling party in 2010.
But when the deceased president was buried, Banda dismissed his brother from the Foreign Office post, and other supporters of the former president were allowed to leave their posts. Instead, Atupele Muluzi was appointed Minister of Economic Planning, and Ralph Kasambara was appointed Minister of Justice.
Malawi is one of the world’s poorest countries and three quarters of the population is expected to live on less than one dollar a day. After conflict with the previous government, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had included large aid packages. President Banda requested a new relief program at the IMF when she took office and gave in to the IMF’s demand that the kwacha currency be devalued. It was written down by over 33%.
The devaluation was seen as a realization of the economy, but it also triggered concerns about rampant inflation and was followed by hoarding and commodity shortages.
The new government’s hope was met that Western countries that had been in conflict with the former president would resume their assistance. The budget deficit had grown since the UK and US froze aid programs worth close to a billion dollars. Britain now promised to help Malawi stabilize the economy and improve health care. The IMF agreed to a $ 157 million three-year relief program.
In foreign policy, President Banda chose a different line from her representative when, before the African Union’s planned summit in Malawi in July, she declared that Sudan’s war-accused President Omar al-Bashir was not welcome. This led to conflict within the AU, and Malawi withdrew from the host for the meeting.
According to countryaah, the population of Malawi in 2012 was 16,745,192, ranking number 66 in the world. The population growth rate was 2.860% yearly, and the population density was 177.6125 people per km2.
The original stock of the population is almost entirely the Bantu one, which over the last few centuries different groups from neighboring territories have crossed. The precarious structure of those populations was severely tested by several raids by groups of slave traders from Zanzibar, who wanted to increase their trade, or by invaders Ngoni and Yao, the latter belonging to the common Bantu stock. Currently, demographic movements are essentially explained by the still traditional organization of the agricultural sector, in which the workforce is made up of women, while men prefer to emigrate: in the 1970s they had as their destination the mining areas in Zambia, Zimbabwe and the Republic of South Africa. ; following the restrictions imposed by those states, they then headed for the few industrial areas that arose in the country; in turn, the Malawi plantations attract workers, often refugees, from Mozambique. The distribution in the territory is uneven, as the southern part of the country, about one third of the territory, hosts almost half of the total population. The urban population reaches just 19% (2008), the only real cities are Blantyre and the capital.
The great majority of the population is Protestant (20.5%); followed by Muslims (20%) and Catholics (18%); the rest is divided among other Christians, animists and more.