Recalled diplomats from New York and Washington in the United States (US) have obtained an injunction stopping the Malawi Government and its agents from recalling them.
The Malawi Government had, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, given the diplomats December 31 2021 as the deadline to returning to Malawi or risk their diplomatic status quashed.
However, recalled diplomats in the US, including Ambassador Edward Sawerengera, missed the December 31 2021 deadline they were given to return to Malawi.
Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Rejoice Shumba indicated after the deadline was missed that festive season holidays and the scare of the Covid new variant called Omicron disrupted the facilitation of logistics for the return of the diplomats.
She then announced that the ministry had given the emissaries January 8 and 11 2022 as the new deadline. The dates were missed again.
Now the ministry faces another hurdle after US-based diplomats sought the courts’ intervention.
Shumba has confirmed the development but asked for more time to provide details.
“I can confirm that we have been sued [by the diplomats],” she said.
Late last year, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Luckie Sikwese wrote diplomats such as Edward Sawerengera, accusing them of delaying the ministry’s efforts to bring them back home.
In a letter he signed, Sikwese indicated that the ministry was serious with the intention of recalling some diplomats.
“Deducing from the demands which you have made on behalf of the other recalled diplomats at the mission and on your own behalf during the last two virtual meetings… it is clear that you are, indeed, obstructing the ministry’s efforts to have the recalls implemented,” the letter reads.
In the letter, Sikwese alleges that Sawerengera was demanding that personal effects of the recalled diplomats be loaded into containers and transported straight to the shipping vessel in readiness for departure for Malawi, and not to a warehouse, which Sikwese said was unreasonable.
“It is against the above background that the ministry has reluctantly been moved to give you and all the recalled diplomats a non-negotiable deadline of December 31 2021 to depart Washington DC for Malawi. The ministry will in this regard proceed to issue air tickets to you and the recalled diplomats, including respective entitled dependents,” he said.
On August 25 2021, the Public Appointments Committee of Parliament approved the appointment of 18 heads of mission that President Lazarus Chakwera appointed on June 14.