Malawi leader sends brother to London to restore diplomatic relations

Peter: To lead Malawi delegation

Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika is sending his young brother Peter  to London in a bid to restore diplomatic relations with London, a top government official has disclosed.

The meeting has been set for October 12 in London.  Peter,  the heir apparent and minister of foriegn affairs, will lead a delegation to the UK in new efforts to restore aid and diplomatic relations which have been sour since  April.

British High Commission charge d’ affaires Kirk Hollingsworth confirmed that his government is expected a Malawian delegation in London next month. “We are expecting a  ministerial delegation for high level talks,” Hollingsworth told Weekend Nation, – a local weekly.

In April this year Malawi, a former British colony, expelled British envoy Fergus Cochrane-Dyet after he called its leadership autocratic in a leaked diplomatic cable.

Hours later, Britain responded by expelling Malawi’s acting ambassador to Britain, Flossie Gomile Chidyaonga. Foreign Secretary William Hague in a statement hinted at further consequences saying he had asked UK officials “to review rapidly the full range of our wider relationship with Malawi.”

Britain further suspended its 93 million pounds ($154 million) a year aid to Malawi is response. Malawi’s Weekend Nation newspaper published excerpts of what it said was a March 2011 British diplomatic cable which said President Bingu wa Mutharika was “becoming ever more autocratic and intolerant of criticism.”

Malawi already faces a freeze in foreign assistance over its hostility to homosexuals and a media crackdown. Hague called Malawi’s decision to expel Cochrane-Dyet “totally unacceptable and unwarranted.”

“Mr Cochrane-Dyet is an able and effective diplomat who has behaved with integrity throughout his posting to Lilongwe, and who retains the full confidence of the British government,” he said.

M alawi had defended its decision to expel the British diplomat saying it had lost confidence in him. Malawi’s government is heavily dependent on foreign aid, with donor funding normally accounting for more than 40 percent of official receipts.