Search

 

Cablegate: Malawi Highlights - January 29

VZCZCXRO1391
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHLMC RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN
RUEHTRO
DE RUEHLG #0080/01 0291220
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 291219Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY LILONGWE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0037
INFO AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION WASHINGTON DC
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0001

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LILONGWE 000080

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
LONDON FOR AF WATCHER PETER LORD
DEPT PASS TO USAID WASHDC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL EINV AU LY MI
SUBJECT: MALAWI HIGHLIGHTS - JANUARY 29

REF: A. 10 LILONGWE 29; B. 09 LILONGWE 650; C. 09 LILONGWE 696

1. (U) SUMMARY: The following is a compilation of recent
highlights from the "Warm Heart of Africa."

-- ALL EYES ON MUTHARIKA AS HE DEPARTS FOR AU SUMMIT

-- BAIL FOR SAME-SEX COUPLE DENIED AGAIN

-- MALAWI'S PARLIAMENT BACK AT WORK

-- BUT MCP MP'S PROMPTLY WALK OUT

-- WEDDING BELLS FOR THE PRESIDENT

End summary.

ALL EYES ON MUTHARIKA AS HE DEPARTS FOR AU SUMMIT

2. (U) Out in full force to cover President Bingu wa Mutharika's
28 January departure for the upcoming AU summit in Addis Ababa,
Malawi media is squarely focused on an anticipated showdown between
Mutharika and Libya's Muammar al-Quadhafi over the AU Chairmanship.
Leading headlines read "Gadaffi Plots Against Bingu" and "Bingu,
Gadaffi Collide at AU." Prominent newspaper The Daily Times quoted
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Augustine Mtendere as saying,
"We know that it is Malawi's turn. If Gadaffi wants to hold on to
the chairmanship, we have nothing to do with that. It is wrong for
him to stick to the chair." Referring to rumored donations by
Libya to other AU members in order sway their votes, Mtendere said
"We can't join that game because of money. We will play the game
of rules; we will not play the game of money."

BAIL FOR SAME-SEX COUPLE DENIED AGAIN

3. (U) The Blantyre High Court denied the latest bail request
from same-sex trial defendants Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven
Monjeza on January 28. The couple made the request in response to
the denial by the lower Blantyre Magistrate Court of an earlier
application (ref A). In making the ruling, High Court Judge
Rowland Mbvundula echoed the reasoning behind the prior refusal in
that "releasing the couple would endanger their safety and induce a
sense of shock or outrage among the public." The trial is
scheduled to resume after 1 February.

MALAWI'S PARLIAMENT BACK AT WORK

4. (SBU) Malawi's National Assembly got back to work after
President Mutharika opened the new session on 26 January. The
opening of the 42nd Session of Parliament was marked by a forty
minute State of the Union Address from Mutharika entitled "The
Dream Come True" where he catalogued his administration's gains in
economic development and food security for the country. The
president strongly noted China's support of several concessionary
projects in Malawi, including an international conference center, a
five-star hotel and twenty Presidential villas in Lilongwe, but
failed to express gratitude for the efforts of Malawi's other
development partners. Observers were quick to point out that
Mutharika did not address Malawi's recent forex woes and fuel
shortages (ref B). Some opposition party members went so far as to
dismiss the speech as a mere "repetition of last year's statement.
" United Democratic Front House Leader Ibrahim Matola was quoted

LILONGWE 00000080 002 OF 002


as saying "There are many loopholes in that speech and we look
forward to finding out how government will respond on those
issues." Parliament plans to be in session for three weeks.

MCP MP'S PROMPTLY WALK OUT

5. (SBU) Drama unfolded on the first full day of the new
parliament on 27 January when tempers flared over the seating plan
for opposition MPs. Still smarting from controversial standing
rule changes passed in the body's last session (ref C), eight
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) members chose to walk out rather than
sit behind the ruling party's hand-picked Leader of the Opposition
Abele Kayembe. When the MCP members refused to budge after being
ordered by Speaker Chimunthu Banda to take their assigned seats,
Banda summoned the sergeant-at-arms to forcibly remove the eight.
Highlighting the deep fissures in Malawi's main opposition party,
the members then followed MCP boss (and losing presidential
candidate) John Tembo out of the chamber. Cooler heads prevailed
the next day when the MCP MP's took their assigned seats.

WEDDING BELLS FOR THE PRESIDENT

6. (U) It is now official: President Mutharika will tie the knot
with former Minister of Tourism and Wildlife Callista Chapola
Chimombo. Ending several months of speculation over the
relationship between widower Mutharika and widow Chimombo, a
statement from State House announced that the two will be engaged
in a traditional ceremony on Valentine's Day (February 14) and then
walk to the altar on Malawi Labour Day (May 1). Malawi media and
the public had been abuzz after several recent public events where
Chimombo was seated next to or near the President. Speculation
increased when in December, in an apparent breach of protocol, the
future first lady was seated next to Mutharika while Malawi's Vice
President Joyce Banda occupied the third seat over. Chimombo was
also recently named Malawi's High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, but it
is unclear whether she still plans to take up the position.
BODDE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 


Palestinian Ministry of Health: Developments In The Health Situation During The Israeli Aggression On The Cities & Governorates Of The Gaza Strip
For the second day in a row, the Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip continues by targeting overcrowded residential areas and neighborhoods, as the death toll rose to 13 citizens, including a 5-year-old girl and a 23-year-old woman... More>>


UN: Horn Of Africa Faces Most ‘Catastrophic’ Food Insecurity In Decades, Warns WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Tuesday that the Greater Horn of Africa is experiencing one of the worst famines of the last 70 years... More>>

FAO: Warns 90 Per Cent Of Earth’s Topsoil At Risk By 2050
A full 90 per cent of the Earth’s precious topsoil is likely to be at risk by 2050, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO...
More>>


Somalia: ‘We Cannot Wait For Famine To Be Declared; We Must Act Now’
Rising acute food insecurity in Somalia has caused more than 900,000 people to flee their homes in search of humanitarian assistance since January last year, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned... More>>

UN: American West Faces Water And Power Shortages Due To Climate Crisis
Two of the largest reservoirs in the United States are at dangerously low levels due to the climate crisis and overconsumption of water, which could affect water and electricity supply for millions in six western states and Mexico, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) warned on Tuesday... More>>



Singapore: UN Experts Call For Immediate Moratorium On Executions For Drug Offences

UN experts* today condemned the execution of Nazeri Bin Lajim, a 64-year-old Malay Singaporean national convicted of drug offenses and urged the Government of Singapore to halt plans to execute individuals on death row for drug related charges... More>>