Malawi President Joyce Banda has said if she had her way, she would not allow Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al Bashir to attend African Union Summit to be held in Lilongwe this July owing to his International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant of arrest for alleged crimes against humanity.
Bashir is the first sitting president indicted by the Hague based ICC, which issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region. Malawi is a party to the court.
“Malawi is already going through unprecedented economic problems and it would not be prudent enough to take a risk by allowing one person to come and attend the summit against much resistance from our cooperating partners and donors,” President Banda told journalists.
“It is such kind of decisions that cost us a programme under the (USA) Millennium Challenge Corporation,” added the Malawi leader when she addressed a press conference at her official Lilongwe State Lodge in the Capital City.
The Head of State said, however, she would not “bulldoze” her position on matter but rather she believes the final decision will have to the one that is arrived at after a thorough consultative process.
“It is about the nation; it is about Africa. It is not Malawi hosting the AU summit but rather it is a question of African Heads of State meeting in Malawi. But at the end of the day, Malawi will have to seriously take into consideration the economic repercussions of hosting President Al Bashir in Malawi,” she said.
The President who noted the country’s obligations under international law to comply with the ICC said that her stance does not also imply that Sudan cannot attend the summit in Lilongwe as “they can send another person to represent the Head of State”.
Malawi was dropped from MCC Programme last year and lost $350m US energy boost aid over the late President Bingu wa Mutharika’s tyrannical reign for allowing Al Bashir to attend a COMESA Heads of State Summit in Lilongwe last year.