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Malawi First Lady apologises to US Second Lady over Zomba protests

21 July 2016, 12:06

Lilongwe – Malawi’s First Lady, Gertrude Matharika, has apologised to US "second lady" Jill Biden for the protests that prevented her from visiting humanitarian projects, the Nyasa Times reported on Thursday.

Matharika apologised on behalf of the government and people of Malawi for failing to ensure Biden fulfilled her obligations in Machinga.

News24 reported that the wife of US Vice President Joe Biden is currently in Malawi, supporting various humanitarian efforts.

Chancellor College students, protesting against a fee hike ,blocked her motorcade on Tuesday morning. She was being driven from the commercial city of Blantyre to the rural district of Machinga, through Malawi’s old colonial capital Zomba.

Students burnt tyres and formed a human blockade as they clashed with police, forcing the motorcade to divert to eastern Malawi’s police headquarters in Zomba.

Paramilitary police guarding Biden realised the protests were escalating and advised US officials to cancel their visit to Machinga and return to Blantyre.

This prompted US officials to cancel a trip to the rural district where they were expected to visit projects funded by United States International Aid (Usaid).

Meanwhile, the Zomba Magistrate’s Court granted bail to 12 of the 23 arrested students charged with the violent protests and clashes with police.

University of Malawi authorities have closed Chancellor College indefinitely, saying the demonstrations were illegal and posed a security threat.

Malawi previously offered public university education almost for free as it sought to build its human resources muscle.

The country abandoned this and introduced a cost-sharing model that required students to contribute between 25% and 50% of the cost of their education.



- News 24


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