MALAWI’s new President Joyce Banda has called for the strengthening of relations between her country and Zambia.
Mrs Banda made the call at a press conference in Lilongwe yesterday when she gave an update on the funeral and burial arrangements for President Bingu wa Mutharika.
According to a statement released by the first secretary at the Zambian High Commission in Lilongwe Chansa Kabwela, Mrs Banda told the media that she had a lengthy telephone conversation with President Sata on Monday and talked about relations between Zambia and Malawi.
Mrs Banda said much as the relations between the two countries were not severed, it was important for the two nations to cooperate because of historical ties and proximity.
“I also spoke with President Sata and he offered his condolences to the bereaved family and the people of Malawi. We both committed ourselves to the restoration of cordial diplomatic relations between our two governments,” she said.
Ms Kabwela said President Banda had dispatched Malawi’s Health minister Dr Jean Kililani to South Africa to oversee the entire process of bringing the body of President Mutharika to Malawi and the details of the burial arrangements would be announced as soon as the ministerial committee finalises its work.
The remains of the President are expected in Malawi on Thursday.
During the press conference, President Banda assured the nation that the government was working for the people, with a two-pronged approach focusing on giving President Mutharika a dignified burial and addressing the economic challenges the country is facing.
Mrs Banda said she has already had discussions with Britain, the European Union, the United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) chief executive officer Daniel Johannes, regarding Malawi’s diplomatic relations and withheld funding.
She said Malawi faced numerous economic challenges and was prepared to address the issues that led to donors withholding aid.
She said cooperating partners were ready to assist Malawi.
Last year, donors froze aid to Malawi over what they termed the country’s failure to address concerns about economic management and governance.
Malawi also expelled Britain’s envoy Fergus Cochrane-Dyet over leaked diplomatic cables.
Britain retaliated by expelling Malawi’s envoy to that country.
[Zambia Daily Mail]