Malawi's President Mutharika tells donors 'go to hell'

Malawi's President Bingu wa Mutharika photographed on 18 July 2011
Image caption President Bingu wa Mutharika won a resounding second term in office in May 2009

Malawi's President Bingu wa Mutharika has told foreign donors to "go to hell", accusing them of plotting with local groups to topple his government.

Mr Mutharika said he was "tired of being insulted" and urged his followers to prevent any protests against him.

Civil society said there are no planned protests - and condemned the president for inciting his supporters.

The UK and other donors cut aid to Malawi in 2010, criticising its economic policies.

Last July, at least 19 people were shot dead by police during anti-government protests over the worsening economy.

'No more nonsense'

Mr Mutharika said he has intelligence reports that some Western donor nations were working with local non-governmental groups (NGOs) to hold street demonstrations and vigils against his rule.

"I will not accept this nonsense any more," Mr Mutharika said as he opened a road in his home tea-growing district of Thyolo in southern Malawi.

"If donors say this is not democracy, to hell with you... yes, I'm using that word, tell them to go to hell," he said on Sunday.

He urged youth cadets of his ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to "do everything possible to rise up and make sure the demonstrations are thwarted".

Malawi's NGO umbrella group, the Council for Non-Governmental Organisations (CONGOMA), says the president has the "wrong intelligence", and no demonstrations are being planned.

"The president should be tired of the problems on the ground, not his critics," CONGOMA chairperson Voice Mhone said in a statement.

"Unless he exerts all his energy and resources in finding solutions the criticism will not stop," he said.

The BBC's Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre says Mr Mutharika has had several run-ins with foreign donors - with the most high-profile row ending in the expulsion last year of the UK's high commissioner after a leaked diplomatic cable quoted him as describing the president as autocratic and intolerant.

He won a resounding second term in office in presidential elections in May 2009 - but has since faced criticism over his handling of the economy and his apparently growing intolerance of anyone who criticises him.

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, with an estimated 75% of the population living on less than $1 (60p) a day.

The country has suffered shortages of fuel and foreign exchange since aid flows stopped two years ago.

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