Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika has told the BBC he feels ashamed by the attacks on albinos his country.
He said that as a leader he “felt terrible” and called for the church to speak out about the attacks.
Malawi has recorded at least 65 attacks on people with albinism, including murders, in over a year, the UN says.
Attacks have been driven by the belief – advanced by some witchdoctors – that albinos’ body parts have properties that confer wealth and good luck.
Mutharika said that this belief was surrounded by “superstition, foolishness and ignorance”.
“The people who are telling people that it makes people rich are not even rich. They are wearing rags. How can a person like this make your rich if he himself cannot make himself rich?” he told BBC Focus on Africa TV.
The president said that he had not rejected the idea of increasing prison sentences for people behind the attacks – but that he would not introduce a death penalty as it already exists for homicide in Malawi.
He added that he was sending officials to neighbouring Tanzania to learn how they had dealt with similar attacks.
Tanzania’s government banned witchdoctors last year as part of its efforts to prevent further attacks and kidnappings targeting people with albinism, who lack pigment in their skin and appear pale.
UN expert Ikponwosa Ero warned in April that Malawi’s estimated 10,000 albinos face “extinction” if they continue to be murdered for their body parts.
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