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IMF chief in Malawi to assess reforms

LILONGWE, Malawi (AP) — The chief of the International Monetary Fund is in Malawi to assess reforms aimed at steering the southern African nation out of an economic crisis. Opponents of the measures say they only make matters worse.

The arrival of IMF director Christine Lagarde on Friday was seen as a show of support for Malawi's president, Joyce Banda, who has been criticized by domestic opponents for sharply devaluing the national currency in line with prescriptions from the international lender.

Malawi, one of Africa's poorest countries, is struggling with high inflation. Banda's opponents plan to stage protests on Jan. 17 against IMF-backed measures, which include the loosening of restrictions on foreign currency exchange.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.