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October 18, 2011

Congressman Wants Aid to Malawi Stopped

by Joe DeCapua

A U.S. congressman said Malawi should not be receiving American aid after it allowed Sudanese President Omar al Bashir to visit the country last week.

President Bashir attended the meeting of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, or COMESA. Despite his being indicted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes and genocide charges related to the Darfur, Malawi refused to arrest him.

Republican Frank Wolf of Virginia called on the Obama administration to take immediate action against the Malawi government.

“It’s depressing,” he said, “Bashir is a known war criminal, indicted by the International Criminal Court, responsible for the deaths of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands.

Wolf also accused the Sudanese leader of being involved in “ethnic cleansing” along the border with south Sudan. Rights groups have accused Khartoum of atrocities in Southern Kordofan State.

“For Malawi, which is also a signer of the International Criminal Court, to invite him in and then for us to give Malawi foreign aid, it’s crazy to think that we would support a country that is supporting a country that is involved in genocide and a president who’s been indicted,” he said.

Wolf has sent letters to President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and the Millennium Challenge Account board.

“We’re asking that the Millennium Challenge (Account) grant be pulled back and canceled, totally canceled, and all foreign aid be ceased. Here we’re going to give American taxpayer dollars in these tight economic times to a country that has welcomed Bashir and that’s inappropriate,” Wolf said.

He said President Obama and Secretary Clinton have the authority to take such action. Wolf said the administration was silent on the issue of Bashir’s visit.

“This is a real test for the administration, a real test for the State Department,” he said.

Wolf said several former Yugoslavia officials that were indicted under international law have been arrested and tried, adding the U.S. targeted those war criminals. He asked why this is happening in Europe and not Africa.

“In Africa, Bashir gets to travel. The Chinese gave him a red carpet several months ago,” he said.

If U.S. aid is not cut to Malawi, Wolfe said he would “try to zero them out.” Asked how he would try to “zero them out,” he replied, “Any way I can, anyway I can.”