KHARTOUM – Malawi has been forced to cancel hosting of an African Union (AU) summit next month after the continental body insisted that the South African nation allows Sudan’s President Omer Al-Bashir to attend.
Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide he allegedly masterminded in his country’s western region of Darfur.
Malawi, which is a member state of the Hague-based tribunal, asked the AU in May not to invite Al-Bashir to the summit, citing fears of economic consequences after the country was denied $350 million in US aid money over reasons including its decision to host the Sudanese leader at a regional summit in the capital Lilongwe last year.
Kachali Khumbo, Malawi’s Vice-President, said on Friday that his country had received a letter from the AU saying that it had no right to dictate who can attend the summit.
According to Khumbo, the letter stated that the summit would be moved to the AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa if Lilongwe insists on barring Al-Bashir.
As a result, “the [Malawian] cabinet has decided not to host the summit” he declared.
Khumbo contended that “much as Malawi has obligations to the AU, it has also other obligations.”
Sudan has already protested Malawi’s refusal to host Al-Bashir and on Thursday demanded that the summit be moved to Addis Ababa.
The AU has issued several resolutions ordering its members not to cooperate with the ICC regarding Bashir’s warrant.
Already countries such as Malawi, Kenya, Chad and Djibouti have allowed Bashir to visit without arresting him though the first two later refused to receive him again.
WASHINGTON – A congressional committee in the United States House of Representatives voted to cut off aid to any state that hosts Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his alleged role in Darfur war crimes.
The amendment to the fiscal year 2013 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill was pushed for by Frank Wolf who is one of Bashir’s most vocal critics.
“Women are being abused and killed for the color of their skin,” Wolf shouted according to ’The Hill’ website.
“This is a moral issue,” he added and threatened to send gruesome videos of violence in Sudan to any committee member who voted down the amendment.
“One lady she pinched her skin and said, ’I’m black. Get Bashir!’ ” the US Republican lawmaker said.
Wolf’s office released his prepared remarks in support of this provision which he said is necessary to further American interests.
“In a time when the foreign affairs budget is being squeezed, I believe our assistance should be a direct reflection of American values and priorities,” he said.
“Surely we can all agree that bringing a war criminal to justice is in our national interest. Leveraging our foreign assistance in this way sends a powerful message,” Wolf added.
The approval of the amendment does not guarantee that it will be included in the final appropriations bill especially as the Democrat-controlled Senate will produce its own version which will later have to be reconciled with the House version and voted on.
The issue has already drawn concern by some of Wolf’s peers in light of its implications on US foreign policy.
“We all agree that the situation in Sudan is deplorable, that President Bashir must be held accountable for his crimes,” Democratic Representative Nita Lowey said.
She noted that Bashir has visited many countries including Ethiopia, China, Egypt, Chad, Malawi, Qatar, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
“My colleague’s amendment would cut off US funding to all of these countries, some of them strategic allies,” had it already been in effect when the visits were made, Lowey said.
Last March, the US announced that it is suspending $350 million allocated to Malawi through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) citing reasons which included receiving Bashir last year.
This month Malawi’s new president Joyce Banda asked the African Union (AU) not to invite Bashir to this year’s summit hosted by her country for fear of its implications on aid Malawi receives.
The Sudanese president denies the ICC charges and refuses to recognise the jurisdiction of the court which he denigrates as a tool of neo-colonialism by the West.
- US suspends aid to Malawi over governance and receiving Sudanese president (alethonews.wordpress.com)
KHARTOUM – The United States on Friday announced that it is suspending $350 million allocated to Malawi through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) citing deteriorating human rights in the country.
“The MCC Board expressed very serious concerns about the economic and political situation in Malawi, and emphasized the need for the Government of Malawi to respect the rights of its citizens and civil society organizations to assemble and speak freely,” said today’s MCC statement published on its website.
The $350.7 million MCC Compact was meant to revitalise the country’s faltering energy sector
Several major donors cut their aid last year to the poor southern African nation over concerns about the infringement of democratic freedoms, economic management and governance.
Last week, a loose alliance of opposition and civil society groups backed by influential religious leaders gave Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika a two-month deadline to step down or face large protests.
But Mutharika dismissed the call.
“If I wanted to, I would use the majority I have and amend the constitution to rule for another term, or forever,” he told supporters at a rally.
“I will not resign because that’s not what the law says. I will only be able to do that when my term expires in 2014,” Mutharika said.
“While the Government of Malawi had taken initial steps in the right direction after the violence of July 2011, more recent events — including the arrests of opposition and human rights leaders and inflammatory rhetoric by senior government officials — supported MCC’s finding of a pattern of actions inconsistent with good democratic governance” the US body said.
The aid agency board, chaired by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also said it was concerned with the lack of progress on economic policy to bring the country’s International Monetary Fund (IMF) program back on track, which it says has contributed to significant deterioration of the economic environment and put at risk the viability of MCC’s planned compact investments.
MCC also said that Malawi’s invitation to Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir was an added factor in the decision to freeze aid.
“Malawi’s decision to allow Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to attend a trade summit in Lilongwe, despite the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) outstanding warrant for his arrest, further deepened MCC’s concerns,” said the statement.
The Hague-based court issued two arrest warrants for Bashir on 10 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide and as a signatory to the ICC’s statute, Malawi was obligated to execute the warrants and arrest the Sudanese leader on its soil.
Malawian President had previously said that African leaders should not be dragged to the ICC for offences committed in Africa.
At the time US Congressman Frank Wolf called on President Barack Obama to cut aid to Malawi.
“We’re asking that the Millennium Challenge (Account) grant be pulled back and canceled, totally canceled, and all foreign aid be ceased. Here we’re going to give American taxpayer dollars in these tight economic times to a country that has welcomed Bashir and that’s inappropriate,” Wolf said.
Malawi’s budget has traditionally relied on aid for about 40% of its funding.
- Western Donor Nations Working To Topple the Malawi Government. (therearenosunglasses.wordpress.com)