Zambian president snubs Malawi summit

Zambian President Michael Sata said on Saturday that he would not travel to Malawi for a regional summit because his counterpart had failed to apologise for having him expelled five years ago.

In 2006, Sata was expelled from Malawi after visiting ex-leader Bakili Muluzi and subsequently declared persona non-grata.

Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika lifted Sata’s “prohibited immigrant status” after he won last month’s presidential election in Zambia but the former opposition leader has demanded an apology.

“Your government has not apologised to me or my lawyer in Malawi and therefore I find it extremely difficult to go to Malawi,” Sata told the Malawian High Commissioner to Zambia David Bandawe.

The diplomat had handed him an official invitation letter from Bingu wa Mutharika to attend next week’s summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).

“You are fully aware of the dilemma in which I am in with your government. Your government for no apparent reason declared me a prohibited immigrant when I went to visit an opposition leader,” Sata said, recounting the 2006 incident.

“They bundled me and put me in a Land Cruiser and brought me back. Your government has not been courageous enough to apologise.”

Sata went on to tell Bandawe he initially thought he was bringing him an official apology from Malawi.

“I thought when you were coming you were bringing apologies. I would have loved to take this first international trip but the people of Zambia and everybody knows that I was deported from Malawi,” he said.

Zambia will be represented at the summit by Vice-President Guy Scott, Foreign Affairs Minister Chishimba Kambwili and Commerce Minister Bob Sichinga.—AFP

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