Activities of Secretary-General in Malawi, 29-30 May

8 June 2010

Activities of Secretary-General in Malawi, 29-30 May

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his delegation arrived at Lilongwe International Airport in the morning of Saturday, 29 May, and, along with Madam Ban Soon-taek, he proceeded to the Lilongwe Civic Centre to sign the official guest book there.

After lunch, the Secretary-General met with President Bingu wa Mutharika at Government House in Lilongwe.  After his meeting with the Secretary-General, President Mutharika announced a pardon with immediate effect in the case of two Malawian homosexual men convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison as a result of their sexual orientation.

Following that, the Secretary-General addressed Malawian lawmakers in the newly erected Parliament Building, following the ceremonial planting of a tree in the gardens of Parliament and the signing of the VIP guest book.  He was the first visiting dignitary to address a full session of parliament in its new seat.  (See press release SG/SM/12927)

In his speech to Parliament, the Secretary-General reiterated his commitment to help strengthen Africa’s place in the world by advocating timely African realization of the Millennium Development Goals.  He called on developed nations to scrap farming subsidies that prevent or restrict African access to their markets.  He also appealed to the lawmakers to repeal legislation discriminating against homosexuals, calling President Mutharika’s pardon “courageous”.  He added:  “It is unfortunate that laws that criminalize people on the basis of their sexual orientation exist in some countries.  They should be reformed.”

In his remarks to the press afterwards, the Secretary-General reiterated his argument in favour of Africa’s speedy realization of the Millennium Development Goals and furthered his call for a worldwide repeal of anti-homosexuality laws.

Following the press conference, the Secretary-General met with the United Nations country team and addressed a town hall meeting of Malawi-based staff members.  That evening he and Madam Ban attended a dinner hosted by the President of Malawi.

The following morning, the Secretary-General flew to Zomba to visit Mwandama Millennium Village.  He first paid a call on a primary school there and then, with his Special Adviser, Jeffrey Sachs, and other senior officials, toured the whole village, considered a showpiece for United Nations Millennium Development Goals initiatives.

In his remarks to the press afterwards, the Secretary-General lauded Malawi’s progress and sustained drive to realize the Millennium Development Goals.  Then, after a traditional farewell ceremony by village residents and local authorities, he and his delegation left Malawi for Kampala, Uganda.

For information media. Not an official record.