Jack McConnell pays tribute after Malawi president dies
Former First Minister of Scotland Jack McConnell has offered his condolences to the people of Malawi following the death of their president.
Lord McConnell and President Bingu wa Mutharika signed a co-operation agreement in 2005 that outlined key areas in which the two countries would work together.
Since then, a range of organisations has worked in key areas such as health, education and economic development.
Scotland’s relationship with Malawi, initiated by Lord McConnell, has continued under the SNP and programmes such as a Scottish-funded teacher training scheme have followed.
Lord McConnell said: “My sympathies today are with the family of President Bingu wa Mutharika, and my condolences go to the government and the people of Malawi following the death of their president.
“Following the signing of the unique Scotland-Malawi Co-operation Agreement in 2005, we became good friends and I respected his love of his country and his efforts to bring about change in the lives of Malawians.
“President Mutharika may have provoked controversy over the past 18 months, but his early leadership on food security, on corruption and critically on HIV/Aids is the real legacy of this time in office.
“He transformed Malawi from the level of poverty and famine he inherited, and the epidemic of HIV/Aids that was ravaging the population, to lead the way in Africa on food security and HIV/Aids prevention.”
He added: “I hope that Malawi can move peacefully to the new era that is now ahead.”
Fiona Hyslop, the Culture and External Affairs Secretary, said: “The thoughts of the people of Scotland are with Malawi at this difficult time. I would like to offer condolences to the family of President Mutharika.
“We welcome indications that there has been a peaceful handover.”
The Malawi government has confirmed the death of the president and declared 10 days of mourning, two days after doctors said he died following a heart attack.
A brief statement from the cabinet offered no further details. Vice president Joyce Banda is expected to address the nation soon, an indication that she will be taking over.
Under the constitution, the vice president should take over to complete Mr Mutharika’s term, due to end in early 2014.
Since 2005, the Scottish Parliament has been working in partnership with the National Assembly of Malawi to establish working links to help share ideas and ways of working.
Reverend Professor Kenneth Ross, chair of the Scotland Malawi Partnership, said: “On behalf of the Scotland Malawi Partnership I offer our deepest sympathy to the Government and people of Malawi on the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika.
“While recognising that his political and economic judgment has been open to question in recent times, we believe that now is the time to honour the distinguished contribution which the late President Mutharika has made to his country’s history and, in particular, to the rejuvenation of Malawi-Scotland relations since 2005.
“In today’s very sad circumstances, we welcome the provision made in the Malawi Constitution for presidential succession and are committed to being a steadfast and resourceful partner to Malawi in the challenging but exciting times which lie ahead.”
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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