Malawi brings back old national flag

Malawi is to revert to its old national flag, a move approved by a parliamentary bill and representing the second change over the emblem in the space of two years.

The country's independence-era flag, first hoisted in 1964, was altered in 2010 by the government under the former president Bingu wa Mutharika.

The flag's image of a red rising sun was replaced with a full white sun to signify Malawi fulfilling its promise on development. Mutharika, who held power for eight years and died in April aged 78 from a heart attack, had claimed the country could not continue "to be at dawn in 2010 as we were in 1964 … we don't have to live permanently in the past".

Mutharika's successor, Joyce Banda, has reversed many of his policies. "In the opinion of the cabinet, there was no compelling reason for changing the independence flag," the the president is quoted as saying.

In parliament, the leader of the house, Henry Phoya, argued that Mutharika had not conducted proper consultations before making the change and said that the national flag showing black, red and green stripes with a red rising sun was a "sacred symbol" of Malawi's nationhood.