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 Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid