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from Africa News blog:

Is Africa Union justified in moving its summit to Ethiopia

The African Union has moved its July summit to the Ethiopian capital after Malawi blocked the attendance of Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), the bloc said

Malawi last month asked the African Union to prevent Bashir from taking part in the event, saying his visit would have "implications" for its aid-dependent economy.

As an ICC member state, Malawi would be obliged to arrest Bashir if he enters its territory. Bashir is accused of masterminding genocide and other atrocities in Darfur. The ICC's chief prosecutor has called for aid cuts to countries that fail to detain him.

African heads of state voted in 2009 not to cooperate with the ICC indictments, saying they would hamper efforts to end Sudan's multiple conflicts, and criticised the court for unfairly targeting African countries.

from Africa News blog:

Is Joyce Banda the answer to Malawi ’s problems?

By Isaac Esipisu

The continents’ newest and second Africa’s  female president took over the reins of power in Malawi to offer a new and more responsive style of leadership that is expected to spur economic recovery of one of Africa’s poorest nation. Joyce Banda was sworn in as president two days after President Bingu wa Mutharika died of heart attack at 78.

The new president, Joyce Banda started her presidency in an enthusiastic and robust way; mending ties with foreign donors that could see Malawi pull out of an economic crisis. The new president of Zambia , Michael Sata, is making the transition easier, contributing 5 million litres of petrol that should help the economy. Banda, a 61-year-old policeman's daughter who won recognition for championing the education of underprivileged girls, now enjoys widespread support among a population whose lives grew increasingly difficult under Mutharika

from Fan Fare:

Should Madonna be allowed to adopt again?

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Madonna has won her appeal for the right to adopt a second child from Malawi, after a court overturned an earlier ruling blocking the bid, and the 50-year-old queen of pop is likely to face further criticism fmadonna4or her actions.

Local rights groups in Malawi have complained that Madonna has been given special treatment by the judicial system because of her status and wealth, and many people question whether taking a child from its native environment is necessarily a good thing.

from Africa News blog:

Malawi: the economy, stupid?

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On May 19, voters in Malawi will go to the polls to elect their next president. The Democratic Progressive Party has been in power for the last four years and is fielding President Bingu wa Mutharika as its candidate once again.

Despite facing a strong alliance of the main opposition leader and a former president, the incumbent is expected to win on the back of an economic boom.

from Fan Fare:

Madonna releases picture with Malawian girl Mercy

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Madonna and MercyFor U.S. pop star Madonna, a photo speaks a thousand words.

She released a picture through Reuters on Monday of her holding a sleeping four-year-old Malawian girl named Mercy James, whom she still hopes to adopt despite a court ruling in the southern African country preventing her from doing so.

The photo was first published in Malawi's Nation on Sunday newspaper. Madonna has lodged an appeal against a High Court decision earlier this month that said she could not adopt Mercy because she was not a resident of Malawi.

from Fan Fare:

Is opinion turning against Madonna over adoption?

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Madonna in Malawi courtmadonna3How much she actually cares only Madonna can say. But there are signs that opinion is turning against the singer over her bid to adopt a second child from Malawi. The 50-year-old appeared in court in the southern African country on Monday seeking to adopt four-year-old Mercy James, having already adopted David Banda.

The first case caused some controversy amid accusations that Madonna was given special treatment in Malawi allowing her to bend adoption rules. A similar outcry has met her latest adoption attempt with human rights activists in Malawi threatening to challenge the move and describing it as "child trafficking or kidnapping". International aid groups have expressed concern over Madonna's actions in Malawi and in the Western press there has been no shortage of negative reaction, largely in the form of opinion pieces.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Ivory Coast stadium crush leaves at least 19 dead

Tragic news from Abidjan, where officials say at least 19 people were killed in a stampede at an overcrowded stadium during a World Cup qualifier between Ivory Coast and Malawi.

"We have 19 dead and many seriously injured," a military source at the stadium said. The crush occurred after part of a wall collapsed when ticketless fans stormed one of the entrances to the 45,000-capacity Houphouet-Boigny arena in the West African country's main city, Abidjan.

from Photographers' Blog:

A postcard from Malawi

 From Mabvuto Banda, Namitete, Malawi, May 2

 - Bernard Banda makes $5 a day carrying people on his bicycle, good money in a country
where more than half the 13 million people live below a dollar a day.
 
    "I charge MK70 (50 U.S. cents) per trip and on a good day I
make about MK700 ($5) or more," Bernard says.

Wood
 
    Banda is not the only one cashing in on a bicycle transport
industry now booming because of the rising costs of fuel pushed
up by strong global oil prices.
 
    Along Mchinji road -- the highway linking Malawi to Zambia's
eastern province -- colourfully decorated bicycles are neatly
parked, waiting to transport students to a nearby government
college, nursing staff to a hospital and visitors around the
area.
 
    The bicycles are remodelled to suit the business. A second
seat is attached to the bicycle behind the driver's seat. The
passenger seat is finished in colourful but cheap leather,
comfortably sized to accommodate any size of passenger.
 
    Stand by the roadside for just a few minutes and you can see
how important the bicycles are to the area.
 
    Bernard is hired to transport a bag of maize. Another 
driver picks up a new passenger and cycles off.
 
    "To do this you have to be strong because sometimes we ride
uphill carrying a passenger or hired to transport a bag of
maize," says Langiton Sitima.
 
    This form of transport is fast-becoming a common sight
across Malawi. In each province the bikers are called by
different names.

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