- Malawi VP quits ahead of election
Malawi's Vice-President Justin Malewezi has resigned ahead of general elections due in May.
In a surprise statement, Mr Malewezi also resigned from the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF).
He cited personal reasons for his departure, but the BBC's Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre says his resignation statement hints that Mr Malewezi is now deciding his next political move.
He had been seen as the obvious man to succeed President Bakili Muluzi as the UDF candidate until Economics Minister Bingu wa Mutharika, a relative outsider, was appointed.
Mr Muluzi lost a spirited campaign to secure a third term in office.
"I have resigned for personal reasons. At the same time, I have proceeded on leave pending retirement until I hand over the vice-presidency to my successor after the general elections on May 18, 2004," Mr Malewezi said in a statement.
He served as first vice-chairman of the UDF since Malawi's first democratic elections in 1994, which ended the rule of long-time leader Hastings Kamuzu Banda.
Four months ago the ruling party entered a loose alliance with the country's second largest opposition party, the Alliance for Democracy (Aford) whose leader Chakufwa Chihana, was named second vice-president.
Our correspondent says the appointment of Mr Chihana seems to have been the last straw for Mr Malewezi.
Several senior ruling UDF officials resigned in protest over Mr Wa Mutharika's anointment while some were fired from their party positions for publicly opposing the president's choice.
- Malawi mob attacks police station
At least two people have been killed following clashes between the police and demonstrators in Malawi.
Police spokesman Willie Mwaluka said scores of youths throwing stones had besieged a police station at Nsanje, near Malawi's border with Mozambique.
They were protesting at the death of a man in custody whom they claimed had been tortured to death.
Correspondents say political tensions are high in the south ahead of the 18 May presidential elections.
Mr Mwaluka said the man had committed suicide after being arrested for being drunk in public.
The angry crowd besieged the police station when news of the death spread, with police officers barricaded inside being pelted with stones and other missiles.
Mr Mwaluka said the mob then went on the rampage, ransacking and looting people's houses, grocery shops and a department store.
"It was a pure orgy of looting and general disorder," he said.
Opposition Republican Party spokesman Silas Kanjere alleged that police arrested the man for chanting anti-government slogans and for proclaiming that Gwanda Chakuamba should be Malawi's next president.
Mr Chakuamba is the presidential candidate for a coalition of seven opposition parties.
The BBC's Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre says tension is high in the town as the angry youths have vowed to avenge the death of their colleagues.
Officers from a nearby Malawi Army garrison have been called in to re-enforce security.
- Malawi: Battle Over the Airwaves Goes to Court
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
April 22, 2004
Posted to the web April 22, 2004
The opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has taken legal action against the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and Television Malawi (TVM) for allegedly biased coverage of election campaigning.
NDA attorney Ralph Kasambara said his client was seeking redress for the alleged blackout of opposition parties by the public broadcasters.
"I am only hoping that the court will direct the two public media institutions to comply with the Parliamentary and Presidential Act [on free and fair elections]," said Kasambara. The NDA is also asking the courts to rule that all competing parties have fair access to public broadcasters.
NDA spokesperson Salule Masangwi said the party had resorted to court action, as "the ruling party has an advantage over us because of [coverage by] the two media houses".
Deputy director-general of the MBC, Eunice Chipangula, was quoted by Capital Radio FM as saying that coverage of political parties was based on the number of MPs each party had in the national assembly.
"This is how we learned from South Africa when we went there to learn about political reporting," said Chipangula.
This assertion is being challenged by the NDA, whose presidential candidate, Brown Mpinganjira, was previously the minister of information in the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) government.
Parliament was dissolved last month and there are currently no MPs in the house, argued the NDA.
According to documents filed in the courts, the NDA also wants the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to adhere to the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections laws, as the MEC is also facing accusations of bias toward the ruling party.
The court is to hear the NDA's application on 3 to 4 May.
Mozambique battles malaria
23 April 2004 13:55
Mozambique said on Friday it is stepping up a prevention campaign against malaria, the country's third-biggest killer after cholera and Aids, by encouraging the use of mosquito nets and looking at new treatments.
Malaria, caused by a parasite carried by the Anopheles mosquito, killed 3 200 people in Mozambique last year out of a total of 4,5-million cases, the Health Ministry said in a statement, two days ahead of Africa Malaria Day.
The worst affected area is the northern Nampula region with 627 fatalities, followed by the southern Maputo province with 471 deaths, said the statement.
Authorities have been encouraging the use of mosquito nets and are trying to raise public awareness among children, who are the most affected along with pregnant women.
"We think that by educating children we will be securing successes in the struggle against malaria," National Director of Health Alexandre Manguel said.
The Health Ministry is also planning to introduce a new line of antimalarial drugs to replace chloroquine, to which the parasite carried by the mosquitoes has grown resistant in recent years.
Mozambique is also battling an outbreak of cholera that has claimed 100 lives this year out of about 20 000 reported cases, according to official statistics.
The majority of cholera cases have been reported in the capital, Maputo, and the central city of Beira, where about 50 000 people were earlier this year vaccinated on an experimental basis.
The Health Ministry is also awaiting the results next month of trials on an orally administered vaccine for cholera.
HIV/Aids has been another health plague but authorities have not published any figures of the number of deaths from the disease.
Mozambique, with a population of more than 17-million, has an adult HIV prevalence rate of 16% with about 700 new infections daily. -- Sapa-AFP
- Malawi president 'a bad choice'
Former President Bakili Muluzi has apologised to Malawians for choosing
a successor who has turned against him.
Current President Bingu wa Mutharika was proposed by Mr Muluzi as the
United Democratic Front candidate in the 2004 presidential elections.
But he resigned from the UDF after a bitter political tussle and is now
launching his own political party.
President Mutharika accuses Mr Muluzi of thwarting his high-profile
"Let me apologise to the country for the choice of Bingu wa Mutharika
and imposing him on the country," Mr Muluzi told a political rally in
the capital, Lilongwe.
"I didn't know he would be accommodating dissenting views," he said.
Mr Muluzi, who remains extremely influential within the UDF, chose Mr
Mutharika as presidential candidate after parliament rejected his
attempt to amend the constitution to allow him to stand for a third
The BBC's Raphael Tenthani says it is the first time Mr Muluzi has
admitted imposing a successor on his party and suggests the gloves have
now come off in their worsening row.
No party has a majority in the 193-member parliament, but the UDF is
believed to be considering impeaching the president.