Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera has cancelled all public engagements to “attend to emerging regional and national matters”, his office announced on Tuesday.
President Chakwera, who is facing increasing domestic pressure over his failure to turn around Malawi’s troubled economy, is the current chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
SADC has in recent days been slapped with travel bans by some Western and African countries following the emergence of the Omicron Covid-19 variant in the region after cases were reported in Botswana and South Africa.
Dr Chakwera has been outspoken about the travel restrictions saying they are not backed by science.
“The public is hereby informed that Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi, has cancelled all his upcoming public engagements with immediate effect in order to attend to emerging national and regional matters requiring his attention,” his secretary Zangazanga Chikhosi said in a brief statement.
Mr Chikhosi said government officials would be delegated to represent the President in such events.
Before the announcement, President Chakwera had presided over centenary celebrations for the police force in the capital Lilongwe.
He was expected to attend World Aids Day commemorations in the northern town of Rumphi on Wednesday.
Malawians have been holding protests against President Chakwera’s frequent travels around the world amid the economic problems in the southern African country.
They also accuse the former church leader of failing to fulfil his election promises as Malawi battles the high cost of living and unemployment.
The Malawians are frustrated by the skyrocketing prices of basic goods and services.
Last month, the government increased the price of fuel by more than 20 percent and economists said this contributed to the rise in prices of other commodities.
The government blamed the price increase on the impact of Covid-19 and the global increase in the prices of fuel.
President Chakwera rose to power last year after beating the incumbent Peter Mutharika in hotly contested polls.