A group of concerned citizens which includes some Muslims are rejecting President Lazarus Chakwera’s announced plans to open a diplomatic office in Jerusalem, Israel.
The ‘concerned citizens’ demand that if Malawi is to open diplomatic relationship with Israel, the move should be approved by Parliament and that the mission should be based in Tel Aviv and not Jerusalem.
“We object to having Malawi embassy in Jerusalem. If Malawi is to open embassy to Israel, let it be approved by Parliament and the mission should be in Tel Aviv,” said a member of the group, Mussa Ibrahim.
Chakwera’s choice of Jerusalem is regarded as Malawi’s official recognition that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital city, which is categorically rejected by Arab and Muslim countries.
Malawi’s plan will follow declarations made by the respective leaders of Serbia and Kosovo.
Chakwera, a former Assemblies of God Church preacher, announced a series of reforms that would include upgrading the country’s Foreign Ministry and its network of embassies worldwide.
“The reforms will also include a review of our diplomatic presence, including our resolve to have new diplomatic missions in Lagos, Nigeria and Jerusalem, Israel. I will be sharing more details about this in the near future,” he declared in his State of the Nation Address delivered in Parliament last Friday.
Chakwera, 65, holds a PhD in theology and has long been supportive of the Jewish state, which he last visited last year.
So far, Malawi — a mostly Christian country with about 18 million inhabitants — has no embassy in Israel. Israel’s non-resident ambassador to Malawi, Oded Joseph, is based in Nairobi, Kenya.
If Chakwera fulfills his promise, Malawi would be the first African country to establish a diplomatic office in Jerusalem.