Malawi Politics

Activist ‘charged with ridiculing Malawi president’

An opposition activist in Malawi has appeared in court to be charged with ridiculing the president.

Manice Hale’s lawyer told the BBC that the authorities accuse her of implying in a social media post that President Peter Mutharika is dishonest and demented.

The trial follows warnings from President Mutharika that anyone who insults him risks facing the law. Ms Hale has been released on bail of $250 (£194) and instructed to hand in her passport.

Her lawyer believes her arrest is the first under Malawi’s Protected Flag, Emblems and Names act to be made specifically for comments aired on social media.

The case has drawn attention partly because Manice Hale – popularly known known as Abinti Manice – is the niece of the president’s elder brother, the late president, Bingu wa Mutharika.

Ms Hale is a member of the new opposition UTM party, which was formed when the country’s Vice-President, Saulos Chilima, left the governing party to compete in elections scheduled for next year.

Her trial is expected to resume in September, according to her lawyer Chikosa Silungwe.

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