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Mutharika wanted to open dialogue with Mugabe

Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika wanted to open dialogue with President Robert Mugabe because he was concerned about the impact of the economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe on Malawi.

His Foreign Affairs Minister George Chagonda told diplomats in Malawi that Mutharika was to take advantage of his visit to Harare to open the 2004 Agricultural Show to discreetly meet Mugabe “to open a behind-the scenes dialogue”.

Malawi was concerned because Zimbabwe was its second largest trading partner and it was home to many Malawians.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 04LILONGWE823, MUTHARIKA TO “OPEN DIALOGUE” WITH MUGABE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04LILONGWE823

2004-08-24 13:13

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Lilongwe

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L LILONGWE 000823

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/24/2014

TAGS: PREL PHUM ZI MI

SUBJECT: MUTHARIKA TO “OPEN DIALOGUE” WITH MUGABE

 

 

Classified By: Pol/Econ Officer Peter W. Lord, reasons 1.5 (b/d).

 

SUMMARY

——–

1. (C) President Bingu wa Mutharika plans “to open a

behind-the-scenes dialogue” with Zimbabwean President Robert

Mugabe during a August 26-28 trip to Zimbabwe. Mutharika,

who will be in Zimbabwe to attend the annual Agricultural

Society Show on August 27, is “concerned” about the situation

in Zimbabwe because of its impact on Malawi, and he hopes to

help “promote peace and security in SADC” through re-newed

discussions. During his short visit, Mutharika has no plans

to meet with members of the opposition. Minister of Foreign

Affairs George Chaponda, who called the Western Heads of

Mission together on August 23, said Mutharika wanted to

explain his intention to meet with Mugabe to prevent any

misunderstandings. END SUMMARY.

 

BRIEFING WESTERN MISSIONS ON MUTHARIKA’S INTEREST IN ZIM

——————————————— ———–

2. (C) Minister of Foreign Affairs George Chaponda, flanked

by newly-appointed MFA PS Lucius Chikuni and Secretary to the

President and Cabinet Bright Msaka, told the Heads of Mission

from the British, French, German, European Union, and

American Missions at a meeting on August 23 that President

Bingu wa Mutharika will discreetly meet with Zimbabwean

President Robert Mugabe during an August 26-28 visit to

Zimbabwe. According to Chaponda, Mutharika, who will attend

the annual Agricultural Society Show in Harare on August 27,

set the private meeting with Mugabe during the recent SADC

Heads of State Conference in Mauritius because Mutharika

wanted “to open a behind-the-scenes dialogue” with Mugabe.

 

3. (C) Chaponda said the GOM, like the respective Western

nations assembled at the meeting, is “concerned” about the

situation in Zimbabwe. Chaponda noted the issues in Zimbabwe

have on impact on Malawi because Zimbabwe is Malawi’s second

largest trading partner and is home to many Malawians.

Chaponda said Mutharika’s interest to engage with Mugabe is

because Mutharika thinks that Malawi, as a member of SADC,

has a role to play in the region’s peace and security.

 

RE-ENGAGING MUGABE

——————

4. (C) According to Chaponda, Mutharika wanted to explain his

plans to open discussions with Mugabe so that there was no

misunderstanding about his intentions. Chaponda also

carefully noted that this initiative, although not entirely,

was in response to demarches the UK and later the UK and EU

recently gave regarding Zimbabwe. Refering to Malawi’s

previous initiatives, Msaka commented that engagement with

Zimbabwe had waned since the December 2003 Commonwealth Heads

of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Abuja and that Mutharika’s

meeting would be a way of re-opening the regional dialogue

former President Bakili Muluzi began. Chaponda said

Mutharika has no plans to meet with members of the opposition.

 

COMMENT

——-

5. (C) The GOM has long been an advocate of behind-the-scenes

dialogue with Zimbabwe, and, with the dust of the elections

settling, Mutharika seems keen to pick up where Muluzi left

off. While we do not anticipate much will come of this

initial meeting, it is possible that Mutharika will later

become an effective avenue of communication.

RASPOLIC

 

(17 VIEWS)

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