The British diplomat Michael Nevin presented his letter of credence as new High Commissioner to Malawi to President Joyce Banda, marking the return of smooth bilateral relations between Lilongwe and London after last year’s crisis, reports the Nyasa Times.
Former British envoy Fergus Cochrane-Dyet was expelled in 2011 for “leaking” a diplomatic cable that described the late president Bingu wa Mutharika, who died last April 6, as “a dictator”. A decision that had also led to the interruption of aid from former colonizers, which were essential for assistance to farmers and payment of wages for doctors and teachers.
In October the government lifted the measure, saying it “was adopted previously in misfortunate circumstances”. The situation was alleviated by Foreign minister Peter Mutharika, who was supposed to succeed his brother in 2014. The assigning of the interim Presidency to Banda five months ago greatly eased tensions in relations with London and contributed to a progressive distention with other western nations, including the US, and the International Monetary Fund.
On being received by Banda at the New State House in Lilongwe, Nervin said he was “delighted” to be coming back to “the Warm Heart of Africa” as an envoy after he served in the country earlier, adding that his presence represents “the re-establishment of a full bilateral relationship”. “The UK never abandoned Malawi, and we have every intention of developing the relationship further”, he said.The diplomat stressed that Britain hails President Banda “for undertaking a difficult but necessary devaluation of the Malawi Kwacha and the repeal of laws that restricted democracy and accountability”.
President Banda in turn also appointed Benard Sande as Malawi’s Ambassador to the UK. Lilongwe obtained independence from Britain in 1964, but the former colonizer had remained its main international donor. Malawi, which is struggling with a serious economic-financial crisis, is strongly dependent on outside aid that accounts for 40% of the national budget.