Malawi media bash president for UK envoy's expulsion

28th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Malawian media tore apart President Bingu wa Mutharika's administration Thursday for booting out a British diplomat, saying the poor southern African country was headed for "disaster".

"The president must learn to take criticism like bitter medicine, otherwise we are heading for a disaster," said an editorial in the Daily Times, the day after Malawi declared British High Commissioner Fergus Cochrane-Dyet "persona non grata" following his criticism of the president.

"One thing is clear... the country is heading in a wrong and dangerous direction," said the Daily Times, which is often critical of the president and is owned by the family of late dictator Kamuzu Banda.

"There is only one loser in all this. It is the Malawian people," it added.

Malawi's decision to expel Cochrane-Dyet prompted British Foreign Secretary William Hague to order acting Malawian high commissioner to London Flossie Gomile Chidyaonga to pack her bags in retaliation.

The row revolves around a leaked cable in which Cochrane-Dyet said the Malawian president was becoming "ever more autocratic and intolerant of criticism."

The privately-owned Nation newspaper, which first published the leaked cable, said Thursday the outside world would now see Malawi as an "intolerant, arrogant and despotic nation that overestimates its position and strategic importance to the world."

The paper's editorial added: "It saddens us that with one stroke of a pen, that special relationship has actually been condemned into a comma with little regard for consequences on a whole host of areas concerning the bilateral ties."

Britain, Malawi's former colonial ruler, is the country's main bilateral donor, giving 19 million pounds ($32 million, 21 million euros) a year in budget support.

© 2011 AFP

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