"a weak administration in Malawi since 1995 has made it difficult to implement development programmes"Finn Skadkaer Pedersen
Danish Charge D'Affaires
The Danish embassy in the Malawi capital, Lilongwe, has said Copenhagen's decision to withdraw all its development aid to Malawi with immediate effect has been prompted by Malawi's corruption and political intolerance.
In a strongly-worded statement issued in the capital, Lilongwe, Danish Charge D'Affaires Finn Skadkaer Pedersen said "a weak administration" in Malawi since 1995 has made it difficult to implement development programmes.
Mr Pedersen said corruption and misuse of Danish and other donor money has become a "markedly increased issue".
He also said political intolerance by the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) of President Bakili Muluzi as witnessed by politically-motivated violence and what he termed as "systematic intimidation of the opposition" has made it difficult for Denmark to continue assisting Malawi.
Recent ruling UDF-initiated attempts to intimidate judges in Parliament did not help matters, he said.
"On this background, the Danish government has decided no longer to include Malawi in its list of programme countries and to phase out DANIDA's support to development and environment programmes in Malawi," Mr Pedersen said.
"This means no new Danish development or environmental programmes or projects will be initiated in Malawi."
The Malawi Government is yet to officially comment on the withdrawal of the Danish aid but already hundreds of jobs are on the line.
Mr Ted Nandolo, executive director of Council for Non-Governmental Organisations - an umbrella group for NGOs in Malawi, says Malawi NGOs will suffer.
Malawian NGOs, including environmental and good governance projects, get a chunk of its operating funds from Denmark.
Mr Nandolo said that all civil society groups in Malawi have petitioned Copenhagen to reverse the decision.
Sympathy for Malawians has been expressed by other Danish quarters.
Ms Elsebeth Krogh, secretary general of NGO Churches Emergency Aid in Denmark, told Danish press it was shocking for Copenhagen to cut aid to Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world.
"It's shocking and undue to cut development aid this drastically," she said.
Denmark's move comes just a week after President Bakili Muluzi lashed out at donors, accusing them of meddling in African politics by using their aid money to influence political trends on the continent.
Recently, at a public he told Malawians that western nations have no right to tell African governments how to govern their countries.
"We are poor yes but we are a sovereign state and nobody should teach me how to run this country," he told Malawians at a recent public rally.
Relations between Denmark and Malawi soured late last year when Copenhagen was forced to recall its outspoken Danish ambassador to the country Orla Bakdal after an audit report he instituted, on how Danish money was being spent, revealed some anomalies.
In 1999 Denmark gave $18 million in aid to Malawi, a poor southern African nation of 10 million people. $87 million had been earmarked for the four-year period ending in 2004.