Daily Trust (Abuja)

27 July 2012

Nigeria: 'FG Sent Air Force Jet to Pick Malawi President for First Ladies Summit'

President Joyce Banda of Malawi on Wednesday flew out to Abuja in a Nigerian Air Force plane.

She was to give a keynote address at the Seventh Summit of the African First Ladies Peace Mission yesterday.

Banda, who is expected to return home next Wednesday, will pass through South Africa where she is scheduled to meet President Jacob Zuma, Malawian newspaper Malawi Today reported yesterday.

The president left Chileka Airport in Blantyre at 10.30am and was seen off by Vice-President Khumbo Kachali, several cabinet ministers and People's Party (PP) senior members, among others.

"I will speak on Thursday (yesterday) on the roles and expectation African first ladies can play in fostering peace in Africa," Banda said in a brief interview.

She observed that in the past, African first ladies were sidelined. "But as a woman, I recognize the important role they can play in development and in bringing peace in Africa."

On why she flew on the Nigerian Air Force plane, Banda said Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan extended the goodwill after noting concerns about the economic hardship Malawi has gone through in the recent past.

In April this year, soon after ascending to the presidency, Banda flew to South Africa, where she discussed economic problems in Malawi and the loan South Africa gave the country to buy fuel.

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