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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release April 14, 1993


Calls for Release of Opposition Leader Chakufwa Chihana

WASHINGTON -- Urging democracy in the country and an end to human rights abuses, Vice President Al Gore met today (4/14) with Malawi's Ambassador Robert Mbaya to discuss the country's upcoming referendum on multi-party democracy.

"The Administration is deeply interested in the process of democratization in Malawi," the Vice President said. "The upcoming referendum on a multi-party system is an extremely important event, and both its conduct and results will be watched closely by the international community."

On June 14, Malawi is holding a national referendum on whether to adopt a multi-party system in place of its current one-party rule.

During the meeting with Ambassador Mbaya, the Vice President also criticized the Malawi government's serious human rights abuses, specifically mentioning the case of imprisoned democracy advocate Chakufwa Chihana.

"I am deeply concerned by the continued imprisonment of Chakufwa Chihana. I believe the charges against him were politically inspired, and the authorities should release him immediately so that he may join in the dialogue for change underway in Malawi," the Vice President said.

Chihana is a union leader jailed for possessing and importing documents which Malawian authorities consider seditious, including the text of a speech he delivered on the prospects for democracy in his country. In 1992, Chihana received the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.