"It's shameful that the UDF party wants to take us back to the dark days,"

Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Malawi president welcomes 'new chapter'


THE president of Malawi hailed a new era of co-operation between his country and Scotland yesterday as he began a four-day visit.

Dr Bingu wa Mutharika said the two countries had begun writing a new chapter in the history of their 150-year-old relationship.

As he was greeted in Edinburgh by Jack McConnell, Dr Mutharika said key co-operation agreements to be signed over the next few days would help his country and his people move forward.

The visit has been controversial because he is facing impeachment back home, with opposition MPs accusing him of corruption.

But the president has received the support from the main donor countries to Malawi, including Britain, who came together last week to call for an end to the impeachment proceedings - aware that Dr Mutharika was being targeted because of his own anti-corruption drive in Malawi.

Speaking outside Bute House, the First Minister's official residence, the president said: "This is a new era in the history of Malawi and Scotland.

"We are writing a new chapter - cementing the relationships that have existed between our two countries for over a century and a half. The agreements that we are going to sign will give us the way forward in Malawi and Scotland to co-operate at all levels for us to move forward for the benefit of our people."

Dr Mutharika, accompanied by his wife and first lady Ethel, made no reference to the impeachment proceedings being launched against him.

Mr McConnell welcomed the president, saying he hoped increased co-operation would work to the advantage of Scots and the people of the world's tenth-poorest country.

Today President Mutharika will also address MSPs in the Scottish Parliament. The president's schedule will further include a dinner at Edinburgh Castle, a visit to a medical supplies company in Livingston, and a visit to Glasgow.

It also emerged yesterday that fishermen and farmers in Malawi are to get expert advice from a Scottish university.

The Executive has awarded Stirling University nearly £250,000 to set up education and training schemes in the African country. The money, spread over three years, will fund a project between Stirling's Institute of Aquaculture and Malawi's Mzuzu University. The project will teach farmers, fishermen and children how to make the most of aquatic resources - from fish farming to safe use of water.

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