‘Jerusalema Ngilondoloze!’ Chakwera sticks to his guns on opening Malawi diplomatic office in Jerusalem

October 21, 2020

President Lazarus Chakwera has said he will stick to his plans to open a Malawi diplomatic office in Jerusalem, Israel, and that “it is never intended to have Malawi isolated.”

Chakwera said Malawi is a sovereign state with its own foreign policy and there should be no question on the country’s decision including on who to associate with.

He was responding to questions in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon.

The opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator for Zomba Chisi, Mark Botomani asked President Chakwera about his administration’s foreign policy in relation to his decision to establish a Malawi diplomatic mission in Jerusalem, Israel.

“I wish to state that the Republic Malawi conducts its foreign policy for the primary benefit of this nation and its citizens,” said Chakwera.

The President said Israel is among Malawi’s “strong partners” and the relationship has been there since independence in 1964.

“Israel has many attributes which Malawi wants to benefit from and the relationship is grounded on our own national interest,” he said.

“Re-energising existing relations- should not be regarded as something new in our foreign policy,” added the President.

Chakwera said Israel is a great nation and global leader in the economic transformation which Malawi wants to tap benefits from the country.

“The government commitment to consolidate our bilateral relations with Israel is therefore well-grounded,” he said.

MP Botomani in a follow-up question drew the President’s attention to an unresolved conflict between Israel and Palestine over east Jerusalem. Due to the conflict, many countries in diplomatic relations with Israel have not recognized Jerusalem as the capital and instead establish their missions in Tel Aviv.

“Why has the Malawi government specifically decided to have its embassy in Jerusalem when there all these contentious issues,” the MP asked Chakwera.

In another follow-up question, DPP’s Mulanje South West MP Dr. George Chaponda said: “We live in a global village and what we do impacts on others.”

Chaponda, a former foreign affairs minister, said Malawi during the one-party state, dictator Kamuzu Banda “took an independent position of honeymooning with apartheid South Africa and decided not to follow what frontline states were parachuting.” He asked if the position to open the Malawi mission in Jerusalem will lead to Malawi being treated as a pariah state.

President Chakwera, an Evangelical who was inaugurated as Malawi leader on July 6, said the southern African nation will not be isolated.

“Decision as who we associate with are matters of national interest and sovereign realms of the states.

“We should never conduct our foreign policy at the behest of pressure from anybody. We should conduct our diplomacy on the basis of mutual respect,” said Chakwera.

President Chakwera said: “Time is now ripe for Malawi to take its rightful role in international relations, demonstrate and share our experience with all UN member states.”

He added: “We will take decisions that are good for Malawi not what others think about us.”

Chakwera, 65, holds a Ph.D. in theology and has long been supportive of the Jewish state, which he last visited last year.

So far, Malawi — a mostly Christian country with about 18 million inhabitants — has no embassy in Israel. Israel’s non-resident ambassador to Malawi, Oded Joseph, is based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Malawi would be the first African country to establish a diplomatic office in Jerusalem.

So far, only the US and Guatemala operate full-fledged embassies in Jerusalem.

Source: Wanga Gwede –Nyasa Times

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