Malawi agrees to allow British envoy to return

15th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Malawi on Friday agreed to allow back Britain's ambassador, who was expelled in April after criticising President Bingu wa Mutharika, in a move toward normalising relations with the former colonial power.

The presidency said in a statement issued late Friday that "Malawi hereby revokes, reverses and withdraws any expulsion or deportation order that was earlier this year unfortunately made" against High Commissioner Fergus Cochrane-Dyet.

The statement said Cochrane-Dyet could enter Malawi anytime "on instructions of Her Majesty's government or otherwise".

The move aimed at restoring ties with Britain, a major donor, came as Mutharika sparked fresh condemnation in Europe for hosting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes, at a trade summit.

Cochrane-Dyet was booted out for describing Mutharika as autocratic and intolerant.

The announcement came two days after Malawi's Foreign Minister Peter Mutharika, the president's brother, met with British Foreign Secretary William Hague in London.

Hague told Mutharika that Britain would not resume normal diplomatic relations until its former colony accepts responsibility for expelling Cochrane-Dyet, officials said.

He also made clear that a suspension in budgetary aid would continue until Malawi tackled serious concerns over economic management, governance and human rights.

Hague also expressed concerns about the economic crisis in the southern African country, saying it should engage fully with the International Monetary Fund and other donors, and condemned attacks on opposition leaders and civil society activists.

Britain's indefinite suspension of general budget support to Malawi will remain "until the government of Malawi addresses our concerns over economic management, governance and human rights", the Foreign Office added.

President Mutharika told AFP in July that he would not apologise for expelling Cochrane-Dyet, saying he had "insulted our country".

In a leaked diplomatic cable, the British ambassador accused Mutharika of "becoming ever more autocratic and intolerant of criticism". London responded to his expulsion by ejecting Malawi's envoy from Britain.

© 2011 AFP

0 Comments To This Article