Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika is adamant that he has not issued an apology to Britain for the deportation of its envoy but has only withdrawn the expulsion status.
Mutharika, speaking through his spokesman Hetherwick Ntaba, said similarly he has also not apologised to Zambia President Micheal Sata but only revoked a four-year-old deportation order against him.
In statements the Office of President and Cabinet issued last Friday, said Sata who was unceremoniously deported in 2007 was free to come to Malawi as his prohibited immigrant status has been revoked.
Malawi also said expelled British High Commissioner Fergus Cochrane-Dyet was free to return.
“The two statements are clarifications, not apologies as widely perceived by analysts and the media,” Ntaba clarified when he spoke on local radio.
Britain envoy was asked to leave in April after he was quoted expressing concern about Mutharika’s intolerance of criticism and deteriorating human rights in Malawi. In retaliation, Britain expelled Malawi’s envoy and suspended aid.
William Hague , Britain Foreign Secretary said last week that they will not resume normal diplomatic relations with Malawi until Mutharika administration accepts responsibility for their decision to expel Cochrane-Dyet.
Mutharika maintains that Malawi was not wrong in the diplomatic spat and cannot apologise, saying British envoy had “insulted our country”.
Leader of opposition John Tembo has advised Malawi government to formally apologise and urged that diplomatic “relations has to be straight.”
Tembo said: “They [Malawi government] should not avoid telling the truth, the British High Commissioner did not leave Malawi on his own will he was expelled.”
The government also said the statement on Zambia was not an apology to Sata.
“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 part of the statement.
Malawi’s former ambassador to Japan, Dr John Chikago blamed President Mutharika on the way he handled the stand-off with Sata, saying he could have sent an envoy to explain the country’s position to his Zambian counterpart.
“It is true Sata was treated wrongly in 2007 and Malawi must send an envoy to Zambia to explain its position to Sata. Malawi was supposed to send a diplomatic note to the Zambian High Commission through the country’s foreign affairs ministry,” said Chikago.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :