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Malawi (Expulsion of British High Commissioner)

Volume 527: debated on Thursday 28 April 2011

I would like to inform the House of recent developments in our bilateral relationship with Malawi.

On 26 April the Government of Malawi communicated to us their decision to expel the British high commissioner to Malawi. Mr Fergus Cochrane-Dyet. That decision is totally unacceptable and unwarranted. Mr Cochrane-Dyet is an able and effective diplomat who has behaved with integrity throughout his posting to Lilongwe, and who retains the full confidence of the Government. It is a worrying sign that the Malawian Government are expending their energies in this way, rather than focusing on the real and substantial challenges facing it, including the need for improved governance.

At my direction the FCO yesterday told the acting high commissioner of Malawi that she and her dependants must leave the UK. I have also asked my officials, working closely with their colleagues elsewhere in Government, rapidly to review the full range of our wider relationship with Malawi.

The Government intend to maintain diplomatic relations with Malawi. But we will not immediately appoint a successor to Mr Cochrane-Dyet.