Controversy has trailed the comments made by Lazarus Chakwera, the president of Malawi, moments before he travelled to the United Kingdom (UK) to attend the Global Education Summit on Financing Global Partnership for Education (GPE) 2021-2025.
Although organisers of the summit allowed a small in-person event in London, the Malawian president cited “unreliable internet connection” in his country as the reason he is embarking on the trip.
The conference, according to organisers, is a largely virtual summit scheduled to take off on July 28.
Details on its website shows that: “The summit runs over 2 days, starting at 14:00 BST on July 28. Four thematic sessions run concurrently on our virtual program, each with an exciting roster of speakers.
“On July 29, the hybrid summit – live in London and virtual starts at 10:00 BST,” the organisation said.
Mr Chakwera, however, blamed poor internet connection as the reason he is attending the conference physically.
“Even though the said summit is virtual, the president needs to be in the UK physically as you know internet connection in Malawi is not reliable,” Malawi’s presidential spokesperson told local journalists.
The Malawian president is said to have arrived London in the early hours of Monday with his wife and daughter as part of a 10-person entourage to attend the summit.
The UK rejected Malawi’s proposed 61-person entourage to participate in the summit.
Mr Chakwera’s delegation, according to Malawi Times, included his wife, First Lady Monica Chakwera; daughter Violet Lillie and the President’s son-in-law Sean Kampondeni, who is State House director of communications.
He said that he needed his daughter there because she would provide physical and emotional support during the trip as the First Lady was reportedly not feeling well.
The president’s reason for embarking on the journey sparked outrage in Malawi and some critics accused him of “nepotism and hypocrisy.”
The summit, which will be co-hosted by the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, will bring together Heads of State and Government as well as stakeholders and youth leaders.
Nigeria’s president Buhari is among the leaders scheduled for the in-person event in London.
Mr Buhari has already travelled to the UK two days before the conference commences.
Femi Adesina, presidential spokesperson, said Mr Buhari will also hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson after participating in the conference.
Deliberations at the Summit will focus on: The Power of Education –A Conversation between Global Champions; Transforming Education for Girls; Financing for Impact and Recovery and; What Now? Priorities for Transforming Education in the Coming Five Years, among others.
The Nigerian leader will remain in the UK for about a week after the summit for ‘medical check-up,’ his office said.
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