President Bingu wa Mutharika has ordered all Malawians to leave the streets forthwith, saying he might be forced to invoke his constitution powers to enforce peace in the country.
President Mutharika was addressing the nation Thursday on the second day of nationwide protests, which have spread out to the townships and have been characterised by looting, violence and sporadic running battles with the police.
The government has since deployed the military to quell the uprising.
Sounds of guns and tear gas shots were heard throughout the night in the townships in several towns in Malawi, with the violence having spilled over to other districts.
According to police information, about 300 people have been arrested in different areas. However, police were reluctant to discuss the number of deaths.
President Mutharika blames opposition political parties and civil society leaders for the deaths, looting and violence, alleging that the organisers were paying the protesters to engage in acts of violence.
“After yesterday’s protest, do we have fuel now? I order all the people in the street to leave the street now. I have the constitution powers to use every means to bring peace in Malawi,” he said.
President Mutharika said those protesting against his leadership were being guided by the devil, adding that the power of God would prevail over Malawi as Satan was a failure.
Organisers of the protest described President Mutharika’s speech as not inspiring and empty, saying it was obvious Mutharika was being told lies by the people surrounding him.
He then invited leaders of the opposition parties and civil society groups to a roundtable discussion, where they would discuss ways to iron out the differences.
One of the protest organisers, Mr Billy Banda, said civil society will give Mutharika up to August 17, 2011 to address all the concerns that were raised in the petition letters that were delivered to the city councils.
“Failure which another protest will be called,” he said.
Meanwhile, Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (Macra), has ordered the shutdown of three radio stations.
However, Mr Banda admitted that the situation had gone out of hand as it was not anticipated that the protests would be violent.
Most Malawi forums and Facebook updates indicated that the president, in his address to the nation, failed to humble and indentify himself with the problems Malawians were facing.
Capital, Joy and MIJ radio stations were plugged off on allegation that the stations defied government orders to stop live broadcasting of the protests.