Malawi President Joyce Banda returned home Thursday afternoon from her 12-day official tour of duty in the United Kingdom and United States of America respectively to a rapturous welcome and indicated that she will not attend next month’s Africa Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Addressing a media conference upon arrival at the Chileka International Airport in Blantyre, the Malawian President instead revealed that Vice President Khumbo Kachali will represent Malawi at the Summit.
Malawi was expected to host the 19th AU Summit from July 9-16, 2012 in Lilongwe but withdrew the offer Monday this week after the AU Commission said as a host nation Malawi had an obligation to invite to the summit every leader including the indicted Sudanese President Omar al Bashir.
President Banda said she respects the decision made by the African Union Commission to move the summit from Lilongwe to Addis Ababa and she regards the issue as a closed chapter.
“I want to say as Joyce Banda and President of Malawi that I respect the decision of the African Union to move the summit from Malawi to Addis Ababa and for me what is paramount and comes first is Malawi and Malawians.
Banda told journalists “we will have no further comment because as far as I am concerned I respect President al Bashir and I respect him as head of state for Sudan but I am President of Malawi, my problem right now or my agenda right now is Malawi’s economic recovery.”
The Malawi leader also expressed concerned that when the country missed out on development aid from donors after al Bashir came to Malawi for the COMESA Summit in October 2011 the Africa Union never condemned development partners for their decision.
The Sudanese President is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide allegedly committed in Darfur Region.
The bold step taken by Malawi to withdraw from hosting the summit has received widespread appreciation from far and wide.
Malawi is a signatory to the Rome Statute which she signed in 1999 and it obliges her to refrain from acts which would defeat the objectives of the International Criminal Court treaty.