News / Africa

    COMESA Meeting ‘Overshadowed’ By Malawi, Zambia Tension

    Zambia's new President Michael Sata, right, takes the oath of office on the steps of the supreme court in Lusaka, September 23, 2011.
    Zambia's new President Michael Sata, right, takes the oath of office on the steps of the supreme court in Lusaka, September 23, 2011.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    • Clottey interview with Patricia Kaliati, Malawi's information minister

    • Clottey interview with Ralph Kasambara, attorney for Zambia President Michael Sata

    Peter Clottey

    The 15th Heads of state and government summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) begins in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe today (Monday).

    COMESA is a regional trade bloc made up of 19 countries from eastern and southern Africa.  The president of Malawi, Bingu Wa Mutharika, who currently heads the organization, is scheduled to chair the summit.

    Analysts say the meeting is being overshadowed by the ongoing diplomatic spat between Lilongwe and Lusaka. This came after Zambia’s new President Michael Sata turned down an invitation saying “I find it extremely difficult to go to Malawi.”

    Mr. Sata was deported from Malawi in 2006 by the Mutharika government after visiting former President Bakili Muluzi. He wants Lilongwe’s apology, ahead of today’s conference.

    Malawi President Bingu Wa Mutharika (file photo)
    Malawi President Bingu Wa Mutharika (file photo)

    The Zambian daily paper, the Lusaka Times, quoted President Sata as saying “I went to Malawi to visit an opposition leader and your government bundled me into a (Toyota) Land Cruiser and said I am a prohibited immigrant. Your government has not been courageous enough to apologize, and therefore I find it extremely difficult to go to Malawi.”

    Information Minister Patricia Kaliati denies “those rumors”, which she said suggests relations with Zambia has been strained since Mr. Sata was elected Zambia president.

    “The bilateral relationship between Zambia and Malawi is still intact,” said Kaliati. She blames the media for “over blowing” the situation and described the alleged diplomatic tension as unfortunate.

    Kaliati adds that the media has little role in executing bilateral relations with neighboring Zambia.

    “If there is any issue, we know how to communicate from government to government and we have our bilateral relations through our embassies or through our foreign affairs. But also with the harnessing of technology, we have the VVIP [Very, Very Important Person], whereby heads of states can also communicate on their own,” said Kaliati. “So if there are issues, those are the areas and protocols, which we use in discussing. So the issue of neighborliness is intact and very good and if there are issues we know how to handle [them].”

    Ralph Kasambara, attorney for Mr. Sata, says it is unlikely that the Malawi government will issue an apology to the Zambian leader, despite his efforts to encourage Lilongwe to do so.

    “So far, we have heard nothing concrete from the [Malawi] government. The government has not provided any revocation of him [Mr. Sata] not entering into Malawi,” said Kasambara.” Secondly, we also wanted to know why Mr. Sata was prevented from entering Malawi when he was declared to be an undesirable element. Again, the government has not been forthcoming on that.”

    Kasambara maintains that the Malawi government “erred” by deporting Mr. Sata since, he said, citizens of both countries do not need visas to cross the border.

    You May Like

    Multimedia US Observes Memorial Day With Wreath-laying, National Concert

    Obama lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora