Details have emerged showing that Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera was forced to cancel his United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) trip because the US demanded “a mostly virtual gathering” due to Covid-19.
The details suggest that President Chakwera’s aides lied to Malawians over the reasons given for the President inability to fly to the US.
The international media reported earlier this month that United States urged world leaders to deliver their UNGA speeches through video. The United States discouraged world leaders from travelling to New York to attend the event in person as the U.S. fears that the UNGA could be a Covid-19super-spreader event.
“We need your help to prevent UNGA 76 High-Level Week from being a super-spreader event,” the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, wrote in an Aug. 13 letter to her counterparts in the 193-member world body.
“Heads of delegation should consider delivering their statements to the U.N. General Assembly’s General Debate by video. If delegations choose to travel to New York … we request delegations bring the minimum number of travelers necessary,” she said.
Side events hosted by the United Nations are also expected to be fully virtual as the U.S. expressed worry that travelers to New York will needlessly increases risk to communities and New Yorkers.
The Joe Biden administration’s demand for a virtual summit and restriction on size of delegation are believed to have forced President Chakwera to cancel his UNGA trip.
However, the President’s Executive Assistant Sean Kampondeni said yesterday that Chakwera has decided to attend the UNGA virtually as he wants to attend to a number of emerging issues that require his attention so that he can move with some level of speed on addressing these concerns.
“The president felt that for him to be out of the country over the course of the month of September would cause some delays in some of these decisions that he needs to put into effect,” said Kampondeni.
The Malawi leader was expected to leave the country on September 18 and would have been in the United States for about two weeks.
Chakwera has earned the Vilemi Dazi and Siku Transport monikers for his love of travelling within and outside the country.