Anti-government activists say the first day of their three-day general strike has been successful.
Government spokeswoman Patricia Kaliati claims Wednesday's demonstration "flopped," but shops, banks and even some government offices were closed across the country.
Billy Mayaya, spokesman for the coalition that called for the protest, says people stayed "fighting for a good cause."
Police were out in force, but no arrests were reported, and no violence beyond brief scuffles between police and people wearing red. Red is associated with the movement that was sparked by worsening economic conditions and complaints about President Bingu wa Mutharika's autocratic style.
In July, police killed at least 19 people when demonstrations degenerated into looting.