Malawi leader Annoys UK’s Hague again

Hague not happy with Mutharika's remarks

British Foreign Secretary William Hague is not happy with Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika once again this time because of the comments he made in an interview with the BBC over the expulsion of diplomat Fergus Cochrane-Dyet early this year.

Mutharika last angered Hague when he expelled the British High diplomat in April this year which consequently led to an aid freeze.

In a statement released by the British High Commission office in Lilongwe on Monday, Hague said that the expulsion of Cochrane-Dyet’s was a “serious blow to the UK’s hitherto excellent bilateral relations with Malawi.”

During the Africa Have Your Say on BBC last Thursday, Mutharika said that Malawi did not declare Cochrane-Dyet persona non grata. He accused the media pursuing their own interest that declared him so.

Mutharika also said Malawi would not apologise to the UK government since there was nothing wrong that it did.

The move to expel Cochrane-Dyet defied warnings from the British Foreign Office and has since strained ties between Malawi and its former colonial ruler, a major aid donor to  Malawi. The British, alongside other main donors, have since frozen foreign assistance over its hostility to homosexuals and a media crackdown, among other issues.

“Despite clear warnings from the British Government as to the serious consequences this move would entail, including the reciprocal expulsion of Malawi’s acting High Commissioner in London and a review of the bilateral relationship, the Malawian Government confirmed that request to us,” Hague said in a statement.

President Mutharika’s young brother and heir apparent Peter is expected to led a high powered delegation to London for talks with the foreign office on October 12 (Wednesday). From there, the young Mutharika flies to Brussels for discussions with the EU.

A senior diplomat in Lilongwe said that Mutharika’s remarks will not help in the forthcoming talks.

“Actually we want action and not commission’s inquiries…we want to know what they have done so far and not promises that they have been making,” said a diplomat in Lilongwe.