Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Malawi leader under fire for planned Cuba trip

Malawi leader under fire for planned Cuba trip
Monday 20 September 2010 / by Belinda Phiri

A planned trip to Cuba this week by Malawi president Bingu wa Mutharika
has come under attack from the opposition who claim that his agenda is
"to learn succession plan of his presidency to his young brother, Peter".

"The president is likely to learn how to hand over the presidency to his
young brother just like Fidel did with his brother Raul," said the
un-named official who is extensively quoted in Malawi media Monday.

The official said Mutharika is now empowered to hand over the presidency
following the endorsement of Peter by the majority of his party.

"Everybody just wakes up and says they have endorsed Peter. What can
stop the president from seeking guidance from Castro who handed power to
his brother?"

Reports say Mutharika is traveling with his brother to Cuba and " they
will both visit the Castro brothers. What do you expect them to discuss,
the Mutharikas and the Castro?"

Mutharika left Malawi last week for Iran for a meeting of African
countries with Iran and later flew to a United Nations summit in US.

From New York, Mutharika and his entourage will go to Cuba for
"friendly" discussions, reports say.

Cuba's former president Fidel Castro ceded his powers to his brother on
July 31, 2006, when he announced that he had undergone intestinal surgery.

The Malawi leader will address the UN assembly which opens on Thursday
23rd September.

During the Assembly, President Mutharika is scheduled to attend several
high level meetings including the High Level Summit on the Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs).

His trip to Iran drew sharp rebuke from human rights group, which said
Malawi was becoming closer to "state's that care less on human rights
and democracy".

The Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) issued a statement saying
that considering recent events at the domestic and changes taking place
at the global level, Malawi needs to adjust its tools for international

"Development diplomacy and career diplomacy need to be practically
implemented as the country cannot afford rhetoric on these issues.

"Meaningful balance needs to be struck between political considerations
and developmental needs of the nation and now is the time to speedily
reform foreign affairs in line with current domestic and international
demands," said the rights body.

"Ultimately, international relations should be about the people of
Malawi who must feel the benefits from these diplomatic and economic
cooperation arrangements."


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