There is no word yet from President Peter Mutharika on whether he would attend the 74th session of United Nations General Assembly (Unga) which opens on September 17 2019 in New York, the United States.
Since Mutharika was declared the winner of May 21 presidential election, he has been delegating Vice President, Everton Chimulirenji and other Cabinet ministers to high profile meetings outside the country.
Presidential spokesperson, Mgeme Kalilani, Thursday said Mutharika was yet to make an official communication on whether he would attend Unga.
“The preparation [for the trip to Unga] started a while ago at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and they are ongoing. The preparations do not stop because there is always an assumption that the President would go. So, towards the end around [September] 13th to 15th, it is when the principal, who is the President, would make a decision whether he would go himself or delegate. So, in terms of President’s decision, there is still time but in terms of preparations, they are on course,” he said.
Commentator George Phiri from the University of Livingstonia said in the event that Mutharika wants to delegate someone to Unga, he should go for a person who is conversant with issues that would be tabled at the summit.
“This is an important meeting to Malawi but it is important that Malawians should be updated on the relevant people who would attend the meeting and how much the government would spend. This is very important is as far as transparency and accountability are concerned,” he said.
Delegates at the high-level forum which runs from September 17 to 30 2019 will discuss climate issues, universal health coverage, Sustainable Development Goals and dialogue on financing for development.
In recent years, the government has been providing scanty details of the size of entourage and money spent on such trips.
Last year, Mutharika attended the UN assembly alongside six Cabinet ministers and 14 other dignitaries.
In 2017, Mutharika was among the first presidents to arrive in New York for Unga but was among the last to return home.
After 2016 Unga, Mutharika extended his stay in New York by three weeks amid speculation and rumours of ill-health and recovery from a minor surgery on his shoulder.