Harare, Zimbabwe (PANA) - Zimbabwe's main daily newspaper, the Herald, on Monday sharply criticised Malawi for bowing to Western pressure and canceling an African Union (AU) summit in the country over the attendance of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
President al-Bashir is indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and Western countries are pressuring countries around the world to arrest him if he visited them.
He was due to attend July's AU summit in Malawi, forcing the southern African country to choose between ignoring the arrest warrant in solidarity with the rest of Africa and forgoing Western donor aid.
The West has threatened to cancel aid to countries which do not co-operate with the ICC, a threat the Herald said motivated Malawi's decision.
Lilongwe, whose economy has been badly shaken by donor aid withdrawal after an earlier stand-off with former colonial power Britain, last Friday cancelled its hosting of the AU over President al-Bashir's attendance.
The summit has now been shifted to Ethiopia.
The Herald said Malawi had made a dangerous mistake in curving in to Western pressure, adding this had opened a neo-colonial avenue for powerful countries to increase their interference in African domestic affairs.
"Much as we are aware that up to 40 percent of Malawi's budgetary requirements were funded by Western donors, which had been withdrawn after the diplomatic tiff with wa Mutharika's government, we ask whether this preference for donors vis-a-vis African principles is a statement that Africa is donor dependent," the paper questioned.
"We also feel that Malawi's decision has thrown Africa into a tailspin decision-making position, and this could mark the beginning of more problems. How the AU deals with the issue is critical," said the Herald.
It said the country should have hidden behind the AU's resolution that its members ignore the ICC arrest warrant for President al-Bashir to ward off the Western pressure.
-0- PANA RS/VAO 11June2012