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Church leaders chastise Malawi's president for demeaning sick vice-president.

BLANTYRE, MALAWI -- Church leaders and civil and human rights groups have condemned as demeaning and unethical remarks by President Bakili Muluzi that the vice-president, Justin Malewezi, is a sick man because he takes tablets daily.

Malawi Human Rights Commission executive secretary Emiliana Tembo called Mr. Muluzi's remarks a violation of the vice-president's privacy. "He has also violated his freedom of association if the remarks are coming because of the fact that Malewezi has joined the People's Progressive Movement [an opposition group]," Mr. Tembo said.

Mr. Muluzi's attack followed Mr. Malewezi's resignation from the ruling United Democratic Front party at the beginning of the year, when he relinquished his position as first vice-president of the UDE Mr. Malewezi, however, retained his position as the country's vice-president. He has said he will leave after his five-year term ends following general elections scheduled for May 18.

Rev. Daniel Gunya, general secretary of the Blantyre Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian, Malawi's second largest denomination, accused Mr. Muluzi of going too far when he described Mr. Malewezi as wopepera (daft) and said that he takes 32 tablets a day because he is a sick man.

"We are very saddened by this development because everybody gets sick," lamented Mr. Gunya. "There must be respect for each other's life as we are all created in the image of God."

The Public Affairs Committee, which represents Christian church organizations, accused the president of not heeding church advice to check his language. Rev. MacDonald Kadawati, the committee's vice-chairman, said, "Muluzi has always promised to take advice from church leaders but in reality the opposite is true."
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Title Annotation:world news
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Geographic Code:6MALA
Date:Mar 1, 2004
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