Mutharika tells west: Russia, China will be Malawi’s ‘new friends’

Newly elected President, Professor Peter Mutharika, has said his country will look for “new friends” in countries such as Russia and China – nations who care less on issues of human rights and governance.

Malawi is traditionally dependent on Western aid donors, who place mostly conditions of governance and human rights for their support.

Mutharika said at his inauguration Monday said the donor nations were “welcome to stay here” but indicated he will look elsewhere for support other than relying on the West.

President Mutharika inspecting a guard of honour by Malawi army during his installation
President Mutharika inspecting a guard of honour by Malawi army during his installation

“We will continue with traditional relationships, but we are now looking for new friends in emerging economies such as Brazil, China, India, South Africa and Russia,” he said.

Britain and the United States have since pledged to work with his government.
Western donors cut their aid to Malawi following the Cashgate corruption scandal.

Robert Besseling, an analyst with IHS Country Risk in London believes Mutharika’s election victory probably won’t herald a return of foreign aid that was suspended last year.

“Foreign aid is unlikely to be restored in 2014,” he according to Bloomberg.

In January, the IMF rated Malawi’s economic performance “broadly satisfactory” after completing its third and fourth reviews under a credit facility, enabling the Fund to disburse around $20 million.

But ‘Cashgate’ scandal led key donors to withhold millions of dollars in budget support to a country that has traditionally relied on foreign aid for around 40 percent of its budget.

“The scandal is evidence that we had lost our moral compass. We need new morality,” Mutharika said.

He added that his administration would pursue a foreign policy that was in the best interest of the country.

Mutharika, 74, is the brother of president Bingu wa Mutharika, who died in office in April 2012.

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