UK not resuming diplomatic ties with Malawi

Malawi government has been asked to accept wrong-doing in the manner in which it expelled Britain High Commissioner in April before Lilongwe and London can resume normal diplomatic relations.

This is the position of Britain government relayed to Malawi after crucial talks between Malawian Foreign Minister Peter Mutharika and his British counterpart William Hague in London on Wednesday.

A Foreign Office spokesman said in a statement made available to Nyasa Times that Hague also disclosed that the budgetary aid sanctions will continue until the Bingu wa Mutharika administration addresses grave concerns on economic management, governance and human rights.

Hague told Mutharika and his delegation which included minister of education Geogre Chaponda and deputy minister Nicholous Dausi, that the diplomatic row between London and Lilongwe erupted because of Mutharika’s decision to deport the British envoy, Fergus Cochrane-Dyet.

Hague: Malawi should accept responsbility. Photo: AFP

The spokesman said Hague rejected the suggestion by President Mutharika on BBC that the British diplomat was not declared persona non-grata but that the media blew the issue out of proportion.

According to the spokesman, UK foreign secretary stressed that “any further discussions on normalising the bilateral relationship would be fruitless if the Malawian government did not accept responsibility for their decision to expel Mr Cochrane-Dyet.”

Hague  who was accompanied by Minister for Africa Henry Bellingham and International Development Minister Stephen O’Brien also condemned  “unreservedly”break down of security in Malawi and politically- motivated assassinations, especially attacks on opposition leaders, critics, civil society activists and death threats on journalists.

UK urged the Malawi authorities to “thoroughly investigate these incidents”, particularly the death of Robert Chasowa  a university pro-democracy student who was murdered by regime thugs and asked them to ” bring those responsible to justice.”

Malawi delegation was told point blank that Britain’s indefinite suspension of general budget support will remain suspended.

However, London is willing to open the aid taps again only when Malawi addresses concerns over economic management, governance and human rights.

President Mutharika clearly said he would not apologise for expelling Cochrane-Dyet, who was expelled after he accused the Malawi leader of “becoming ever more autocratic and intolerant of criticism” in a leaked diplomatic cable.

Malawi has no diplomat at its embassy in London. Its envoy was also expelled.

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