Malawi President back after month long disappearance and “as fit as a 30 year old.”
President Peter Mutharika who had disappeared from the radar for at least a month returned to Malawi last Sunday amid speculation of ill health. To further ferment the rumours, he greeted people using his left hand only, choosing to withhold his right. During a press conference on Friday, Mutharika waved both hands and later said he had regained 80% of his troubled hand’s function. “I am very fine. I am told by the doctors that my heart, everything else, kidneys, whatever, is about the quality of 30-year-old.” He admitted to having “a slight rheumatism in a shoulder” further saying his arm had become numb and he had been advised not to shake hands with people. Mutharika said it would have been crazy to leave the United States to come back to his country at the time. His exact words were, “I was in America, probably the best country in terms of medical facility. I have my doctors there, I have my households there, I have my medical insurance there. I would have been crazy to leave the United States…to come back here.” The President’s administration has however been chided for personalizing the leader’s health information. Mutharika said, “Don’t blame my people. If you want to blame anybody, blame me. All my staff was sent back, therefore, I did not have enough staff to communicate to and I did not give them all the details of where I was. So, if you want to blame me, blame me.” For his part, Mutharika has shown he has no trust in his own country’s health system.
The United Nations has said Congo’s security forces killed at 48 people during demonstrations against the government last month on the 19th of September. The forces are said to have used excessive force against protesters resulting in not only the death of the 48 but injuries to more than 140 people. Security officers also unlawfully arrested 299 civilians. The protest was to pressure the government into an early poll in response to what the opposition perceives as delaying tactics by incumbent leader, Joseph Kabila. Kabila’s government has argued that there are no funds to finance the election which has been interpreted as an attempt to hold on to power no matter the cost. His government has delayed elections by nearly two years and the U.N. has warned this could result in more violent conflict. The U.N. Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Congo, Maman Sidikou, has urged the Democratic Republic of Congo’s authorities to conduct independent, credible investigations and bring the perpetrators to justice.
South Africa’s decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced by Justice Minister Michael Musutha has drawn mixed reactions with the country’s largest opposition movement, the Democratic Alliance planning to challenge it in the Constitutional Court. Musutha said the government would present a motion to parliament for legislators to vote on pulling out of the ICC. South Africa has notified the United Nations that it wants to withdraw from the ICC. However, James Selfe, a DA parliamentarian has said, “The Democratic Alliance is disgusted at this decision. We think it sends out an entirely incorrect message around our commitment to human rights and our abhorrence of human rights abuses and of genocide, and we believe that it would set back our foreign policy and in the way in which South Africa is viewed in a very fundamental way.” He added, “We also believe that the decision itself has been taken in a way which is unconstitutional, unlawful...accordingly, we will be lodging papers in the Constitutional Court on Monday morning seeking the court’s ruling seeking that it reviews and sets aside this decision by the South African government. You cannot inform the U.N. Secretary General that you are withdrawing before have consulted the South African parliament who has ratified the treaty. That’s putting the cart before the horse…But we all know why this is so, the South African government wants to come to parliament for the fait accompli, and say that unless members of parliament support that motion, we would be embarrassing the South African government in its dealings with the United Nations.” Meanwhile, Burundi’s parliament approved the government’s motion to withdraw from the ICC.
A passenger train travelling from Yaounde to Doula in Cameroon overturned near the town of Eseka and claimed in excess of 70 lives on Friday and injured hundreds more. The train is said to normally carry about 600 passengers but on Friday, 1300 were travelling to Doula. The railway officials said they increased the number of cars from 8 to 18 to cope with the huge number of clients. President Paul Biya has extended a message of condolence to the bereaved families and asked the government to assist all victims with whatever they need for their treatment. The government has opened investigations to determine the causes of the accident.
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