Malawi has finally bowed down to pressure and announced that it will not host the Africa Union heads of state summit next month, days after the Sudanese government pushed the African Union commission to move summit to Ethiopia.
Sudan’s move follows a threat by Malawi’s President Joyce Banda that President Omar Hassan Al-bashir will be arrested if he attends the summit in Lilongwe. Al Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court of Justice to answer genocide charges in the death of hundreds of people in Darfur.
And in a statement, Malawi’s Vice President Khumbo Kachali said the AU commission has told Malawi that as a host nation it is obliged to invite all heads of state of member countries to the summit including Al bashir. It is said the commission made its position clear that if Malawi is not willing to welcome Al bashir then the commission will move the summit to another country. “The cabinet met this morning (Friday) to deliberate the issue after Sudan officially wrote the commission to shift the summit. It was noted that the preparations for the summit are on course as certified by the AU commission delegation that was in the country last week, but then accepting the conditions of the commission will be against the wishes of Malawians,’ states the statement.
Malawi has since informed the AU commission of its decision. Meanwhile, while others are welcoming the decision, some private sector players are bitter considering the fact that they invested hugely in their respective businesses such as accommodation and transport in readiness for the summit. This comes as the government officials urged the hospitality industry to renovate and build up more facilities to host the delegates, among other services. President Banda earlier wrote the AU commission that it should invite a low profile delegate from Sudan and not Al-bashir whose visit last year during the COMESA summit cost Malawi donor support. Banda said his visit to Malawi has ‘’economic implications’’.
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