Malawi Pledges to Restore Relations with Donors

Malawian President Joyce Banda (file photo).
Malawian President Joyce Banda (file photo).

Malawi's new leader is pledging to mend relations with foreign donors who withdrew aid during the rule of late President Bingu wu Mutharika.

President Joyce Banda told reporters Tuesday that, in a phone call, she asked U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to unfreeze aid to Malawi that came through the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation.

"On my part, I pledged that Malawi will resolve the issues that led to the suspension of the MCC.  And particularly pledged that we want to restore rule of law and democratic principles in our country, respect for human rights and freedoms as guaranteed by our constitution, and to demonstrate good governance, especially economic governance," she said.

The MCC funnels U.S. aid to countries with records of good governance and respect for human rights.

Critics of President Mutharika, who died last Thursday, said he had become intolerant of dissent in his final years.  Nineteen people were killed during anti-government protests last July.

Malawi depends on foreign aid for up to 40 percent of its budget, and the loss of foreign aid was economically painful for the southern African country.

Banda also said she is attempting to improve relations with Britain, which withdrew its envoy to Malawi during a diplomatic dispute with Mutharika, and donors such as the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Banda said the late president will be buried April 23, after his remains are brought back from South Africa.

The new president also announced some more personnel changes, replacing the country's information minister and director of state broadcasting.  On Sunday, she replaced the inspector general of police, who was at the helm during the protests in July.

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