President Joyce Banda of Malawi will not attend the African Union (AU) summit that was moved to Ethiopia after she said her country did not want to host Sudan’s leader, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on genocide charges.
Ms. Banda, president since April, has been trying to woo back overseas donors that froze hundreds of millions of dollars of aid under her predecessor, who picked fights with western countries and was condemned for a deadly crackdown on anti-government protesters.
A few weeks after taking office, she asked the AU to prevent Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir from taking part in the July summit, saying his visit to Malawi could damage the economy.
As a member of the International Criminal Court, Malawi is supposed to arrest Mr. al-Bashir if he enters its territory.
The AU this week moved the meeting to the Ethiopian capital due to Malawi’s stand.
“I respect the decision of the AU to move the summit from Lilongwe to Addis Ababa but I am not attending the meeting,” Ms. Banda said at a news conference late on Thursday.
When asked whether she was protesting against the AU decision to move the summit rather than prevent Mr al-Bashir from attending, she said: “My main agenda is to put Malawi on an economic recovery path and that’s what I am trying to do.”