Malawi's Joyce Banda to skip July AU summit By REX CHIKOKO | Friday, June 15 2012 at 08:30
Malawi President Joyce Banda has said she will not be attending the African Union Summit to be held in Addis Ababa next month and will instead send her deputy, Khumbo Kachali.
"I will be at home with you. I will send him [Kachali]. I respect the decision by the AU to have the venue shifted," she said.
Mrs Banda spoke Thursday in Blantyre after arriving from official visits to the United Kingdom and the United States.
The Malawi President said she does not rue the AU's decision to shift the summit from her country to Ethiopia after she threatened to arrest Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir if he showed up.
"Where was the AU when Malawians were suffering after failing to arrest him in October?" she posed.
Mrs Banda said while she respects Mr Bashir as President of Sudan, her mandate is to protect Malawians hence her decision to refuse to host AU summit if it also meant hosting him.
She urged Malawians to regard the raging issue as water under the bridge, saying the AU was unperturbed when the donor community pulled out of Malawi after President Bashir's attended a Comesa bloc summit there in October 2011.
"I as Joyce Banda and President of Malawi, I respect the decision by the African Union to move the AU summit from Lilongwe to Addis Ababa," she said, and added, "For me what is paramount and what comes first is Malawi and Malawians."
Malawi has been actively mending relations with donors who withdrew aid in protest at former President Bingu wa Mutharika's governance and economic polices.
The hosting of Mr Bashir, who is wanted by the ICC for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, was especially a sore point to western donors who prop up a significant part of Malawi's budget.
The conflict between the two Sudans will be on the agenda at the July meeting, which will also look to elect the head of its executive arm.
- Why Obama is visiting Tanzania
- Another politician for the Kenya Cabinet
- The girl who met Gaddafi 'in hell'
- Kisumu, where some folks are eating well, while others are going hungry
- Kenyan call girls go high-tech
- Ethiopia's anti-female cut crusader honoured
- Achebe’s body arrives home
- After Berlin Man, two reported cured of HIV in Kenya
- Eritrea's Afeworki: reviled and revered ex-rebel
Beyond the ballot