MCC Suspends Funding to Malawi Due to Crackdown

On July 26, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a US government aid agency, announced it would place an operational hold on all money intended for Malawi while it reviews the agency’s partnership with the country.  This announcement comes as a response to the  violent crackdown by the Malawian government on demonstrators protesting rising food and fuel prices, as well as what many citizens view as increasingly authoritarian moves by President Bingu wa Mutharika. Nineteen people were killed after Malawian authorities opened fire on assembled protesters and 500 people have since been arrested and detained by authorities, with many civil society leaders and media professionals hiding in fear for their life. President Mutharika has pledged to “smoke out” instigators of the popular unrest, individuals that he claims are being “led by Satan.”

The MCC, which in April signed a compact with Malawi totaling $350 million, stated that it is strongly concerned about the government’s response to protests and will begin reviewing whether to suspend or terminate all remaining assistance to Malawi.  This decision follows widespread condemnation of President Mutharika’s recent actions and is consistent with similar decisions from a range of European donors and the International Monetary Fund, all of which have cited concerns over the deteriorating economic, political, and human rights situation in the country.

Freedom House commends the decision of the MCC to actively review its partnership with the government of Malawi and encourages the agency to hold the Mutharika regime to account for the grave human rights violations it has perpetrated.