'Financial hiccups' sees Malawi close four embassies

Malawi is to close four of its 19 embassies and recall 35 diplomats from Canada, France, Kenya and Libya as a cost-cutting measure, the foreign minister said on Monday.

“Financial hiccups the country is experiencing have forced the closure,” said Foreign Minister Davies Katsonga, adding that the “development will not affect government relations with the four countries”.

Katsonga said the poor southern African country, battered with a $600-million domestic debt and $2,9-billion foreign debt, would save two million dollars a

year from the closures.

He added that the four countries were chosen because few Malawians lived there and the volume of trade with the countries was small.

Most of the diplomats deployed during the past 10 years were loyalists and party zealots of retired president Bakili Muluzi, who handed over power to his chosen successor Bingu wa Mutharika last year.

Malawi, backed by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, is on a cost-cutting drive to try to revive investor confidence.

About 60% of Malawi’s 11-million people live below the poverty line. - Sapa-AFP

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