Britain suspends Malawi aid over poor governance

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Britain announced on Thursday it was suspending budgetary aid toMalawi over the African country’s failure “to address UK concerns over economic management and governance”.

Britain’s Department for International Development accused the Malawian government of suppressing demonstrations, intimidatingcivil society organisations and legislating the obstruction of political opponents.

“Poor people in Malawi and British taxpayers alike have been let down,” International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said in a statement.

“In these circumstances I cannot justify the provision of general budget support for Malawi.

“In the meantime we will use other means to ensure that programmes to protect poor Malawians, amongst the poorest people in the world, and deliver basic services like health and education are able to continue,” he added.

Britain provided around £19 million ($30.7 million, 21.7 million euros) of budgetary aid last year, which was meant to help the government deliver a national strategy for poverty reductionagainst an agreed set of targets.

Britain’s government also slammed Malawi’s overvalued exchange rate, “which has created chronic foreign exchange shortages.”

“There are now daily fuel queues, tobacco exports have deteriorated and Malawi is off-track with its IMF programme,” Thursday’s government statement continued.

Relations between the two nations became strained in April when the WikiLeaks website published a diplomatic cable, in which Britain accused President Bingu wa Mutharika of “becoming ever more autocratic and intolerant of criticism”.

The dispute led to the expulsion of both nations’ ambassadors.

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