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Government defends vote against Russia on UN Human Rights Council

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Malawi is the only country that voted to suspend Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council within the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).

This comes as Russia continues with its invasion in Ukraine.

The vote was conducted at the UN assembly on Thursday with the majority of the countries voting in favour of Russia’s suspension.

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Minister of Foreign Affairs Nancy Tembo confirmed Malawi’s vote for Russia’s suspension.

“Malawi voted yes [to have Russia removed from the UNHRC). This is the second crucial vote linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that Malawi has voted. Malawi don’t support war. We believe in contact and dialogue,” Tembo said.

Last month, Malawi also voted at the UN to reprimand Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

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Political analysts say Malawi is a sovereign country and it has its own right to make a decision when it comes to voting at the UN level.

Henry Chingaipe of Institute for Policy Research and Social Empowerment yesterday said Malawi’s stand is not variance with Sadc or Comesa countries.

“There are no pre-agreed decisions on how to vote in the UN forums. On each issue, there is always canvassing for or against resolutions brought for adoption. In this process, political economy dynamics creep in and they shape decisions of member states. In the end the vote of member states is driven by interests of the state party and influences on it. So, the question is: What influences and considerations were at play and shaped Malawi’s vote?” Chingaipe said.

According to Chingaipe, one thing that may have influenced the vote would be the pressure or canvassing that countries that provide aid to Malawi may have exercised on Malawi’s envoys.

“Of course, there are always four options. Yes; No; Abstain or Absent. Malawi was clear and affirmative. I think we were not voting against Russia. We voted for our economic interests by aligning with our donors,” Chingaipe said.

Political analyst Vincent Kondowe said history has always shown that Malawi has not tallied with other countries when it comes to voting at the United Nations.

Kondowe said in terms of international relations foreign policy, each country in Sadc and Comesa exercises its sovereign power.

On Thursday, British Minister for Africa Vicky Ford hailed President Lazarus Chakwera’s stance on the Russian invasion saying any hostility on civilians should be condemned.

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