Malawi president creates new position for fired military chief

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lilongwe - Malawi President Bingu Wa Mutharika has created a new position for the country's former military chief, barely a day after firing him from the Malawi Defence Force (MDF).

"The State President, in accordance with his constitutional powers, has appointed retired General Marko Chiziko as the National Security Advisor with effect from July 23, 2011," announced the state owned broadcaster, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, quoting a statement released by the Office of the President and Cabinet.

The position of National Security Advisor, which Chiziko has assumed, has just been created as Malawi's government has never had such a position.

The president fired Chiziko from the MDF on Friday evening but no reason for his sacking was given by the Office of the President and Cabinet.

The announcement for General Chiziko's sacking was also made on MBC.

"The Office of the President and Cabinet has announced that President Bingu Wa Mutharika has appointed Brigadier General Henry Odillo as new commander of the Malawi Defense Force replacing General Marko Chiziko," stated the MBC.

Chiziko has been commander of the MDF since 2004 when Mutharika assumed the country's presidency.

The Office of the President and Cabinet, however, did not provide any reasons for the change of leadership in the country's military, although commentators linked Chiziko's sacking to the July 20 anti-government mass demonstrations, in which the military was called in to assist the police bring order in the streets of major cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu.

The demonstrations, which were organised by Malawi's civil society groups in protest of recent government economic and governance policies, however, turned tragic when the police tried to stop the crowds from conducting the demonstrations and a total of 18 people were killed in the process.

Meanwhile, the Government of South Africa has strongly condemned the crackdown on what are reportedly "anti-government protesters", and called on protesters to express their grievances within the ambits of the laws of Malawi.

"It is our view that more conciliatory efforts across the political divide should be brought to bear on all Malawians in the context of bringing about a mutually agreeable solution to the challenges of Malawi, which will ultimately contribute to the broadening of peace, security and development in the region," said the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO).

President Jacob Zuma also reiterated his belief that "violence and any other form of attacks will not assist anyone in advancing our quest for peace and stability in any country. As the Government and the people of South Africa, we reach out in our thoughts and prayers to the Government and people of Malawi, especially those who have lost their loved ones during the recent attacks and wish those wounded a speedy recovery."

South Africa said it will be closely watching developments in Malawi, with the hope that the country's politics and social life will return to normalcy.

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