Malawi to go ahead with AU summit, donors to assist

The new Malawi administration has finally announced that it will go ahead with the hosting of the African Union Heads of State Summit in June this year.

The development puts to rest uncertainties that have been hovering around the issue following the initial stand by the current President Joyce Banda who was against the idea when she was in the opposition but still the country’s vice president.

President J Banda ascended to the country’s highest office on April 7, 2012 following the death of Bingu wa Mutharika on April 5.

Minister of Information and Civic Education Moses Kunkuyu announced Tuesday that a cabinet meeting convened by President Banda had agreed to go ahead with the hosting.

Kunkuyu: Donors have pledged support

He said the decision to host the event, scheduled for Lilongwe, was arrived at to honour the wish of the departed leader President Mutharika.

“It has pleased Her Excellency the President that we go ahead hosting the summit as an honour to the departed President Mutharika who had always wanted to host it,” said Kunkuyu.

Commenting on why sudden change of heart by the President who stood her ground against the idea, the minister said Her Excellency Banda was right then because of the economic and political situation the country was in.

“Although the situation is still the same now but there is a lot of support coming in. The President has already spoken to her counterparts and they are very willing to help.

“If we were to go it alone we wouldn’t have managed but because of the support we are currently receiving we may end up hosting at very low cost or even at no cost,” explained Kunkuyu.

However, Kunkuyu was non committal as to whether or not the Malawi Government would welcome the Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity, to attend the summit.

Departed President Mutharika, whose stand was that African leaders should not be dragged to the ICC for offences committed in Africa, hinted that his government would not object the arrival of the war crimes indicted Sudanese president to attend the event.

Last year, Al-Bashir was also allowed to enter Malawi when the country hosted the heads of state and government COMESA Summit, which was only attended by four presidents as other African countries refuse to host the human rights abuser Sudanese president.

Late Mutharika’s stand, in addition to other issues, resulted in the United States suspending its $350 million grant (K58 billion) grant allocated to Malawi through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to help in boosting the energy sector.

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