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Former British premier Blair visits Malawi

Former British premier Blair visits Malawi

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived in the country on Tuesday, but details of his itinerary are sketchy except confirmation that he will also meet President Lazarus Chakwera.

Blair arrived through Kamuzu International Airport around 5am on Tuesday and jumped into a waiting vehicle under police escort, according to sources at the airport.

Was in the country on Tuesday: Blair

In a written response to our questionnaire, acting presidential press secretary Anthony Kasunda indicated that Blair’s meeting with Chakwera was not his trip’s main agenda.

He said: “President Chakwera was informed of Mr. Tony Blair’s private visit to Malawi and the wider region.

“As such, in keeping with established international protocols, the President invited Mr. Blair to pay him a brief courtesy call, his schedule permitting, to allow the two to get personally acquainted for the first time.”

Kasunda could not take further questions, saying: “That is all I have to say at the moment.”

British High Commission communications manager Benson Linje said his office was not part of Blair’s visit, describing it as private.

“Please contact the Tony Blair Institute as that is likely a private visit,” he said.

But as we went to press around 9pm, the Tony Blair Institute had not yet responded to our questionnaire

Meanwhile, University of Malawi political analyst Mustapha Hussein said being a global figure and looking at his dealings, Blair’s visit was supposed to be announced before his arrival.

Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency executive director Willy Kambwandira also urged government to be open in its dealings with Blair.

Blair ’s visit comes barely a year after the government said it had engaged the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change to establish a project at State House which would support government to “strengthen its delivery and implementation mechanisms”.

The developmen t stirred opposition with critics questioning his engagement process as not being transparent as no tender for such services was advertised.

But government later calmed the voices of concern, pointing out that his institute offered to provide the services for free.

The institute, when announcing plans to recruit a country head for its Malawi project last year, outlined a number of roles it would carry out under the Tonse Alliance government.