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Last Updated:  Friday, 28 February, 2003, 14:03 GMT
Malawi president's cheap insult
By Raphael Tenthani
BBC, Blantyre

Two young men have been fined 50 Malawi kwacha ($0.55) each for chanting anti-third term slogans and hurling insults at President Bakili Muluzi.

You are young and disrespectful
Magistrate
A Magistrates Court in the capital, Lilongwe, found Emmanuel Mdoka and Justin Kamanga guilty of insulting the person and the office of the president of the Republic of Malawi.

The court heard that the young men, heading home from a drinking spree in the small hours of 18 February, started chanting that President Muluzi should not be allowed to contest next year's general elections because, according to them, he was a thief.

This did not go down well with militant youths of the ruling United Democratic Front known as Young Democrats.

Citizens' arrest

The Young Democrats performed a citizens' arrest on the drunk young men and handed them over to police.

The two young men had to spend 10 days in police custody before being found guilty.

President Muluzi
There is anger at President Muluzi's moves for a third term

The Young Democrats testified in court that they were so angered by the insults that they arrested the young men.

Mr Mdoka and Mr Kamanga denied insulting the president or his office, saying they made their confession to police because they were tortured.

Mr Mdoka said he was tortured so much that he developed epileptic fits.

The magistrate told the young men that insulting the head of state was a serious offence. "You are young and disrespectful," he told them, but he added that they were lucky that parliament had decided to classify their crime as a misdemeanour.

The UDF is pushing for a constitutional amendment to allow President Muluzi, whose second term of five years ends in 2004, to contest the presidency for a third term.

The issue continues to breed controversy.

Several people, including MPs and religious leaders, have been roughed up for expressing anti-third term sentiments.




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