US Lawmaker Calls For End to Malawi Aid

Posted October 19th, 2011 at 1:20 pm (UTC-5)
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A U.S. lawmaker is pressing the White House to end a hefty aid package for Malawi, after the southern African country allowed Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to visit.

During an interview with VOA on Wednesday, Congressman Frank Wolf accused Malawi of aiding and supporting a “known war criminal.”

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Bashir on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Sudan's Darfur region.

Wolf said as an ICC member, the Malawi government should have arrested Mr. Bashir instead of, in the congressman's words, “rolling out the red carpet” for him during a regional summit last week.

The Republican Party congressman sent a letter to President Barack Obama this week, demanding the U.S. terminate a five-year, $350 million grant to Malawi.

The grant was approved in April by the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. government agency that partners with poor countries that demonstrate a commitment to good governance.

Wolf is a member of the House of Representatives' Appropriations Committee, which deals with federal government funding.

In July, the Millennium Challenge Corporation placed a hold on Malawi's aid package, after Malawi forces launched a deadly crackdown on anti-government protesters.

The demonstrators were protesting fuel shortages, rising prices and the erosion of civil liberties. Journalists were beaten and local media outlets were forbidden from reporting the unrest.

The U.S. agency said it is reviewing whether to suspend or terminate its assistance to Malawi.