, BLANTYRE, Mar 23 – Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika vowed Thursday that he will not step down until his term ends in 2014, after demands for his resignation and growing anger over his leadership.
“I want to inform the Malawi nation that Bingu will not step down until 2014,” he told a rally in remarks broadcast live on state radio.
“I would like to say that Bingu doesn’t run away from work, Bingu doesn’t desert responsibility even if the going gets tough.”
Mutharika’s defiant promise was his first reaction to last week’s call by a leading Malawi rights group for him to leave office or face civil unrest for mismanaging the economy and trampling on democratic freedoms.
The Public Affairs Committee (PAC), made up of religious groups, rights activists and the opposition, said Mutharika should either quit office or a referendum be called within three months.
“This is my answer to the memorandum that they say they have written, I won’t answer again!” said Mutharika, at an event to mark World Water Day in the southern resort district of Mangochi.
“This is my message, the message has gone to PAC, the message has gone to opposition, the DPP government will be there until 2014.”
He said he was not ready for any further dialogue with his critics, saying: “According to laws, I am supposed to step down in 2014.”
While saying he had the powers to change the constitution if he wanted to be life president, Mutharika said he would not do so. “I am disciplined and I love democracy,” he said.
His second term in office has seen growing discontent with his rule, with critics lambasting new laws to restrain the media, limit protests, and restrict lawsuits against the government.
The PAC has threatened “civil disobedience” if its demands were not met, saying the country was bordering on a failed state.
Political tensions erupted into rioting in July, when police shot 19 people dead.