Malawi says it expects no major policy shift following the election of Republican candidate Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America (USA) yesterday.
Malawi has enjoyed a robust relationship with the US government, but there have been fears over Trump’s foreign policy. However, the US Embassy in Lilongwe has swiftly allayed the fears.
Speaking in an interview last evening, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Francis Kasaila said Malawi enjoyed a partnership with the US government in the sectors of health, education, security as well as humanitarian assistance and Lilongwe does not expect this to change.
He said: “We know there is a broader policy on Africa, not necessarily Malawi, but we have heard nothing negative from the Republican Party on its policy concerning the continent.
“We don’t expect a big shift as far as the relationship with the US is concerned.”
Kasaila said President Peter Mutharika has congratulated Trump on his victory, but could not divulge details of the letter as it is a government to government communication whichwas yet to be dispatched.
The US Embassy in Malawi has said going by the lack of change in foreign policy on Africa in the past 20 years, the presidential elections results in the US will not in any way affect its relationship with Malawi.
Speaking in an interview on the eve of the elections, US Embassy public affairs officer Edward Monster told The Nation that based on historical occurrences in the US foreign policy on Africa following presidential elections in that country, there was no need for fear that the successful candidate would make radical changes to the policy.
He said: “It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to speculate what exactly the foreign policy would be like after Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton wins. That will come when the new president is elected and the new president elaborates what the policy will be.
“But I can say if the past is an indicator, US foreign policy has been constant for the past 20 years with some concrete examples like President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, starting African Growth and Opportunity Act [Agoa] in the 1990s and his successor from the Republican, George W Bush and then President Barack Obama [Democrat] continued that programme and it still exists today and is of major benefit of the ones who want to do business with the United States today.”
According to Monster, another example would be the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar) which was created by a Republican president, George W Bush and continued by his successor Obama.
He said these developments gives him confidence that US policy on Africa and by extension, on Malawi, will remain constant.
Meanwhile, governments from Asia to Europe reacted with stunned disbelief yesterday to the victory of Trump while populists hailed the result as a triumph of the people over a failed political establishment.
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, an ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, described the result as a “huge shock” and questioned whether it meant the end of “Pax Americana”, the state of relative peace overseen by Washington that has governed international relations since World War Two, according to Reuters.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault pledged to work with Trump but said his personality “raised questions” and he admitted to being unsure what a Trump presidency would mean for key foreign policy challenges, from climate change and the West’s nuclear deal with Iran to the war in Syria.
During the US election campaign, Trump expressed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, questioned central tenets of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) military alliance and suggested that Japan and South Korea should be allowed to develop nuclear weapons to shoulder their own defence burden.
He also vowed to undo a global deal on climate change struck by world powers in Paris last year and renegotiate the deal between Tehran and the West which eased sanctions against the Islamic Republic in exchange for allowing close monitoring of its nuclear programme. n