Malawi’s decision to withdraw from hosting the African Union (AU) Summit slated for July has resonated well with analysts who argue that the country’s fragile economic situation would have worsened had Lilongwe gone ahead with the meeting.
Most analysts also say Malawi has stood on principle by shunning a leader who has been associated with serious crimes.
Vice-President Khumbo Kachali announced the withdrawal on Friday, arguing that Malawi could not comply with a condition by the AU Commission to invite all heads of State and government.
Chancellor College lecturer and political analyst Dr Blessings Chinsinga on Saturday hailed government for making the bold decision, arguing that the U-turn will not have major repercussions on Malawi.
Chinsinga acknowledged that in the short term, some businesses will suffer, but said the long-term gains are what matter.
“I think it is a good move for the average Malawian. We are coming from a big economic crisis which has proved that we cannot stand without donor support and if we went ahead and hosted the summit with Bashir, it would have spelled doom for us,” he said.
Chinsinga said Malawi has not betrayed Africa because as much as the country belongs to the continental grouping, Lilongwe has obligations to international treaties it ratified such as the Rome Statute which established he International Criminal Court that wants al-Bashir arrested for genocide and crimes against humanity.
President of the Political Science Association Joseph Chunga said the cancellation is a good call because if al-Bashir came and was arrested it could have been a graver issue.
“We were in a fix. The option of arresting al-Bashir was even worse off bearing in mind that some countries don’t want to see him arrested. Of course, the move will present Malawi as a sellout, but in terms of national interest we have nothing to lose,” said Chunga.
Human rights activist Billy Mayaya said the decision is a prudent one as it is based on values and principles that drive international diplomacy.
“Al-Bashir is accused of crimes against humanity by the ICC and as a sovereign State Malawi had to make a decision based on ethics. The charges against Al-Bashir are serious and Malawi cannot be party to an institution that glosses over the actions of dictators.
“For Malawians, it means that we have a government that is moving decisively based on sovereignty, not dancing to the tune of a club of dictators which some perceive the AU to be,” said Mayaya.
Another human rights activist Undule Mwakasungula also echoed Mayaya’s sentiments, saying the decision is worth applauding because it shows that Malawi stands for justice for the people of Darfur and the country is committed to upholding human rights.
Mwakasungula said although there may be other factors that motivated the decision, it still shows that Malawi is principled.
He said the ICC depends on member states that have ratified the Rome Statute to execute its decisions, which include effecting arrest warrants.
Livingstonia Synod secretary general Reverend Levi Nyondo also added his voice, saying the church applauds the cancellation because Malawi should not associate with someone who is killing people [Bashir].
“Even in church if someone is bad, we suspend him,” said Nyondo.
Meanwhile, AU has welcomed Malawi’s decision and has since announced that Ethiopia will host the extraodinary summit.