MP urges Banda not to shun AU summit to ‘dispel cowardly assertions’

Member of Parliament for Lilongwe Central (MCP) Robin Lowe has appealed to Malawi President Joyce Banda not to shun an African Union summit next month which was moved to Ethiopia from Lilongwe  as she refused to host Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Banda announced that Vice President Khumbo Kachali will now attend the July 9-16 summit in Addis Ababa.

But speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Lowe  said President Banda may be accused of being a traitor or a coward and by attending the summit, she would dispel such assertions.

President Banda: My main agenda right now is Malawi's economic recovery

“She is the second female president in Africa so her attendance would have worked to her advantage as the continent is desperately searching for a feminine voice,” argued Lowe.

“ By cancelling the summit, others are viewing her as coward and a traitor, so her going could help to dispel such mentality,” he added.

But government spokesman Moses Kunkuyu told Parliament that Malawi will be ably represented by Vice President Khachali.

President Banda asked AU not to invite Bashir to the summit, as he is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

The AU insisted that Bashir must be invited, while Banda wanted the Sudanese leader to send a representative to maintain ties with donors, who contribute up to 40% of her country’s development budget.

Banda said she did not regret AU’s decision to take the summit away from Malawi, saying:”For me what is paramount and what comes first is Malawi and Malawians. We have to respect that and have no further comments.

“As far as I’m concerned, I respect President Bashir and I respect him as President of Sudan. But I am President of Malawi and my main agenda right now is Malawi’s economic recovery.”

Under current ICC rules, signatories, which include Malawi and  32 other African states, have a duty to arrest Bashir.

Bashir is the first sitting president indicted by the court and his visits spark diplomatic headaches for African nations, with some signatories vowing his arrest on their soil while others flout  the court’s rules.

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