US Congressman asks Obama to drop Malawi from MCC

A United States Congressman has written President Barack Obama asking him that Malawi should be totally dropped from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) aid programme because the Bingu wa Mutharika administration hosted international fugitive  Sudanese President Omar al Bashir and rejected calls to hand him to International Criminal Court.

Congressman  Frank Wolf of the 10th District of Virginia said  if funding for Malawi is not cancelled, MCC would be seen to be “complicit in aiding a genocidal government.”

“I write today to demand that Malawi immediately be dropped from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) program as a result of the government allowing Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir – an internationally indicted war criminal responsible for the genocide in Darfur – to enter the country for a regional trade summit,” reads Wolf’s letter to Obama.

Obama: Asked to deal with Malawi

The Congressman said in the letter that “it is unconscionable that American tax dollars are going to a country that openly allows someone like Bashir to visit.”

He said American tax dollars should not be going to countries like Malawi who welcome wanted war criminal Bashir.

The MCC and Malawi signed a $350 (about K53.7 billion) compact on April 7, 2011 to revitalize Malawi’s power sector, but violent crackdown on anti-government protests in July which left 19 people dead and media restrictions perpetrated by the government led to an operational hold in July 2011.

The MCC Board, meanwhile, has opted to continue the operational hold that was placed on the compact with Malawi.

The grant was expected to boost Malawi’s crumbling energy sector as it was meant for the Electricity Supply Commission of Malawi (ESCOM) to improve its capacity to abate constant power blackouts.

Malawi Foreign Minister Peter Mutharika who led a delegation of ministers in discussing with MCC said they were “optimistic that the hold will be removed after the discussions.”

But board of directors recently held its quarterly meeting and follow-up outreach meeting to discuss new MCC partner countries where Malawi was not selected.  The Board selected Tunisia as threshold-eligible, conditionally approved a $600 million compact with Indonesia, and heard results from compact close-out in Armenia.

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