Travel ban affects Malawi President’s Commonwealth trip

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Crippling foreign currency and fuel shortages have prompted Malawi
government to ban all foreign trips by government officials.

The ban has also affected that country’s leader, President, Bingu wa Mutharika, forcing him to cancel his trip to Trinidad and Tobago for the 2009 Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM).

CHOGM, a grouping of former British colonies, will be meeting between 27 – 29 November. The Malawian President was set to leave on Monday.

“His Excellency the President, therefore, calls upon all ministers, deputy ministers, principal secretaries, controlling officers, chief executives, heads of institutions and organisations listed above to strictly adhere, and ensure strict adherence, to this directive,” reads part of the directive.

Malawian ministers and top officials are said to often travel abroad on missions they can easily delegate to their subordinates. The president himself has been accused of too many external travels.

Malawi, Africa’s largest tobacco producer and one of Africa’s poorest nations, has been facing erratic fuel supplies and recently a war of words flared between Malawi and Mozambique authorities, whom they accused of delaying fuel shipments destined for Malawi at its sea points at Beira.

The Malawian President has directed all persons working for the government of Malawi to reduce the number of external trips to a maximum of six in every financial or calendar year. Each trip, according to the directive, should not exceed 14 days.

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