Mandela arrives in Malawi for talks with Muluzi

Blantyre- Malawi (PANA) -- Amid pomp and ceremony, South Africa's former President Nelson Mandela arrived in Malawi Wednesday ahead of a two-day visit during which he will hold talks with host President Bakili Muluzi at the lakeshore resort of Mangochi in the south of the country.
Clad in his trademark multi-coloured long-sleeved shirt, the 84- year-old charismatic leader alighted from his chartered private jet unaided to be received by a welcoming party led Vice President Justin Malewezi, accompanied by scores of praise- singing women.
During brief remarks to the press, Mandela commented on the country's current political debate of whether Muluzi should run for a third term when his legal mandate of two terms expire in 2004.
Mandela told journalists that the question of a further term for Muluzi was not on the agenda of their discussions.
The statesman, who relinquished power at the height of his popularity after serving one term, however, was quick to add that should Muluzi raise the issue of a third term he would be glad to discuss it with him.
He nonetheless warned foreigners against poking their noses in internal affairs of a sovereign state.
"I've no intention of discussing domestic affairs of a country because if the community, the nation, wants him (Muluzi) to continue, outsiders have no right to interfere," he said.
"It's a question of what the people of Malawi themselves want.
" Mandela had kind words for his host, praising Muluzi for his peace efforts in the region in his role as the chairman of the 14-member Southern African Development Community, or SADC.
He flew off in a military helicopter to Mangochi where Muluzi has organised a dinner.
Muluzi and Mandela are scheduled to hold private discussions Wednesday night to discuss the situation in Burundi, where Mandela is a mediator, the protracted political turmoil in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Angolan peace process.
Malawi's worsening food crisis will also feature in the discussion before Mandela opens a Rotary International Assembly for Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi Thursday in the resort area.
The issue of Muluzi's third term bid is bound to dog Mandela's visit to Malawi, however.
The Malawi Human Rights Consultative Committee, a consortium of civil rights NGOs, has sent a petition to Mandela, urging him to use his political influence to dissuade Muluzi's ruling United Democratic Front from amending the constitution to allow the president to run in 2004.
"We have decided to write Dr Mandela so that he uses his political influence in the region to advise Mr Muluzi to reject an amendment to the Constitution," Ollen Mwalubunju, executive member of the MHRCC, said in a statement.
Political affairs secretary in the South African High Commission Lucas Mokoena told PANA he would deliver the petition to Mandela in Mangochi Wednesday evening.

22 may 2002 16:31:00

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