Malawi President Joyce Banda has cancelled her official trip to attend the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and has instead delegated her Vice, Khumbo Kachali.
Special adviser on politics and communications Elias Wakuda Kamanga has confirmed that the President is not attending the summit scheduled for today.
“The Vice-President is going. Actually he has already left. It is within the line of duty for the President to delegate the Vice-President,” said Kamanga on Tuesday.
Reports in Addis Ababa suggested that this was a last-minute change because arrangements were as of Monday being made to welcome the President and not Kachali.
Wakuda Kamanga could not be drawn to comment whether the cancellation of the President’s trip was a result of the austerity measures government announced in November last year in the wake of the cashgate scandal and the subsequent freeze in budgetary support from the country’s major donors.
Government suspended all internal and foreign travel by government officials and by extension to the President, who has been criticised for her frequent internal and external travels.
The President first attended the AU summit in January 2013.
In June 2012, the AU shifted that July’s summit from Malawi following Banda’s request to the body to plead with Sudan President Omar al-Bashir not to come as there were no assurances that Malawi would refuse to serve the International Criminal Court arrest warrant on him.
The AU responded by insisting that Malawi had an obligation to welcome al Bashir and provide all the necessary protection to the Sudanese leader.
The Cabinet decided that such conditions were unacceptable and the summit was moved to Addis Ababa and Kachali also represented Banda.