Malawi says UK envoy, Sata no longer persona non grata

Malawi government has announced that deported British High Commissioner, Fergus Cochrane-Dyet and Zambia’s new President Michael Sata are no longer persona non grata and that they are welcomed in the country.

The announcement was made by office of the president and cabinet  secretary Bright Msaka through state broadcaster MBC on Friday.

Msaka said the two “were free” to enter  the country.

Malawi has been having diplomatic row with Britain and Zambia in the recent days.

Msaka; Made the announcement

The relationship between Lilongwe and London took a new low last April when the Mutharika administration declared Cochraine-Dyet Persona Non Grata after a diplomatic cable leaked to the media.

In the cable, the envoy described President Mutharika as becoming ‘increasingly autocratic and intolerant of criticism’.

Lilongwe and Lusaka has also been experiencing strained diplomatic relations since Sata was elected president last month..

In 2007, Malawi deported Sata when he came to visit former president Bakili Muluzi. He was declared prohibited immigrant on his arrival at Chileka airport and was bundled in a police vehicle to be dumped at Zambia border.

But the Mutharika administration announced that it has revoked the persona non grata status on the British envoy and Zambian President in a bid to mend diplomatic relations.

“The Government of the Republic of Malawi hereby revokes, reverses and withdraws any expulsion or deportation order that may have been made or issued in 2007 against or in respect of His Excellency Mr. Michael Chilufya Sata, the newly-elected President of the Republic of Zambia,” reads a statement issued by the Office of the President and Cabinet.

However, an apology  has not been issued .

In a recent meeting in London between British Foreign Secretary William Hague and a high-level Malawi delegation, led by Foreign Minister Peter Mutharika, Hague stressed that “any further discussions on normalising the bilateral relationship would be fruitless if the Malawi government did not accept responsibility for their decision to expel Mr. Cochrane-Dyet.”

Zambia also asked Malawi government to apologise and offer an explanation for its action against Sata.

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