Malawi President Dr Joyce Banda has hailed Army Commander, General Henry Odillo for leading the Malawi army to defend the Constitution after former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) orchestrated a failed “constitutional coup d’état” following the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika last April.
Former Foreign Minister Peter Mutharika – now answering to treason charges – asked the military to take over after his brother’s death, an official report said. Odillo had refused the request to seize power.
Speaking at a meeting with the United States Defence Secretary,Chuck Hage, l President Banda said Odillo, Commander of the Malawi Defense Forces, stood firmly to ensure that the constitution was followed and that she was sworn in as President on April 7.
“General Odillo is not only a hero in Malawi but a model for African democracies,” said President Banda.
“ General Odillo and most of his officers who stood with him were trained by the United States under the International Military Education and Training program. I wish to thank the United States for that program and urge you to expand it not only in Malawi but throughout Africa with emphasis on the role of the military in a democracy,” said the Malawi leader who is on an official visit to the US on invitation of President Barack Obama.
The Malawi President also hailed US or training and equipping four battalions for peacekeeping operations.
“The Malawi Defense Force has performed well and has maintained an excellent reputation during deployments in Ivory Coast and elsewhere. We are committed to providing peacekeepers in Africa but we cannot continue or expand our contributions without additional equipment,” said President Banda, who is also Commander-In-Chief of Malawi army.
She said Malawi’s biggest internal threat is illegal immigration and trafficking in persons.
“Our land and water borders are not secure due to lack of capacity of our police, immigration and military services,” she said, asking training and equipment to combat illegal immigration and trafficking in persons, especially on Lake Malawi.
She disclosed that Malawi is developing a National Security Policy and Strategy with the assistance of the United Kingdom as well as the United States, saying the country will appreciate “continued assistance”.