MALAWI: Bingu punishes Chissano

Josh Ashaz

The Malawi Government on Saturday withdrew the vehicle which has been allocated to Mozambique's former President Joaquim Chissano for use on his African Union (AU) preventative diplomacy" in the country.

State House sources said the Mercedenz Benz was withdrawn on orders from President Bingu Mutharika after Chissano's statement at the official opening of the dialogue which brought together the Malawi President and his rival, former president Bakili Muluzi.

Chissano had to be driven from New State House by the Mozambican Ambassador to Malawi, his allocated vehicle having been withdrawn by the Mutharika regime.

The Malawi Government has since returned the vehicle to Chissano after diplomatic negotiations with the Mozambican Government.

Sources say the withdraw was ordered after Chissano's remarks rebutting government propaganda that the AU mission was to persuade former president Muluzi to withdraw from the elections after having already served two consecutive five-year terms of office.

"Our mandate has nothing to do with eligibility of candidates," he said. "We do not want to replicate the responsibility of the Malawi Electoral Commission." Chissano had said.

This apparently drew the ire of President wa Mutharika.

Mutharika had hoped that the AU mission would persuade Muluzi to withdraw his candidature as a precondition for talks but Chissano, who had earlier visited Malawi with former Ghanaian president John Kufuor to assess the situation, clearly stated that their mandate was only to facilitate inter-political party dialogue.

Our mission is preventive diplomacy — to prevent possible pre-election violence," Chissano had said.

Government officials were not willing to comment on the vehicle withdrawal.

Chissano, who has become an elder statesman engaging in preventive diplomacy on the behalf of both the AU and the United Nations [UN], is the 2007 winner of the Mo Ibrahim Prize for African Leadership.

He is also current Chairman of the Global Leadership Forum.

In that capacity, he has managed to bring together the front runners in the May 19 presidential race in Malawi, Mutharika and Muluzi, who have been bickering for four years.

Nyasa Times

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