Malawi and British diplomat spat erupts

Last Updated: Thursday, April 28, 2011 - 00:50

Blantyre: Malawi expelled Britain`s top
diplomat to the southern African nation on Wednesday for criticising
the president, sparking a tit-for-tat reprisal from London and
threats of further action.

A diplomatic spat between the countries became full
blown Wednesday when Malawi declared British high commissioner
Fergus Cochrane-Dyet persona non grata, leading Britain`s
Foreign Secretary William Hague to order acting high
commissioner of Malawi Flossie Gomile Chidyaonga to pack her
bags.

"I am sorry to pass on the news that the Malawi
Government has officially informed the Foreign and
Commonwealth Office today (Tuesday) that Fergus
(Cochrane-Dyet) is being declared persona non grata," British
high commission vice-consul Lindsay McConaghy wrote in a memo,
a copy of which was seen by a news agency.

The row revolves around a leaked cable in which
Cochrane-Dyet said Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika was
becoming "ever more autocratic and intolerant of criticism."

In the diplomatic cable, published by the weekly
Nation earlier this month, the high commissioner also said
that "the governance situation continues to deteriorate in
terms of media freedom, freedom of speech and minority
rights."

McConaghy`s memo said that "there will be serious
consequences for Malawi" for its treatment of the high
commissioner, the equivalent of ambassador in Commonwealth
countries.

London retaliated within hours, with Hague saying that
at his direction the Foreign Office had told Chidyaonga "that
she and her dependants must leave the UK at the earliest
opportunity."

PTI



First Published: Thursday, April 28, 2011 - 00:50

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