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Malawi revokes diplomats’ status in US over recall stand-off

The Malawi government on Saturday revoked the diplomatic status of eight recalled diplomats who had refused to leave the United States in a stand-off over the shipping home of their personal effects.

“We have revoked their diplomatic status and we have also informed the US government that they are not there as Malawian diplomats,” ministry of foreign affairs spokeswoman Rejoice Shumba told AFP.

The eight from Malawi’s missions in Washington and New York failed in court to prevent the government from implementing the recall.

Shumba said the government was merely finalising a recall project that began after Lazarus Chakwera was elected president in 2020.Most of the envoys were appointed by his predecessor Peter Mutharika.

“We set out to bring back 70 diplomats from our missions, but we only managed to bring back about 50 because the others were resisting. But when their case was dismissed, we resumed our mission to bring them back,” she said.

According to Malawi’s recalled ambassador to Washington Edward Sawerengera the eight demanded their personal goods be placed in containers and then loaded directly on to a ship, and not first stored in a warehouse — a demand the ministry called “unreasonable”.

The ministry had given the diplomats a non-negotiable deadline of December 31, 2021 to return to Malawi, before they sought legal redress.