THE State of the Union Coalition (SOTU), a group of civil society organisations from nine African countries has reaffirmed its intention to hold the Grand Unity football match on July 7 in Malawi despite the African Union's decision to shift the summit to Ethiopia.
The match, between selected players from different countries under the coaching panels of Patrick Mboma and Nwanko Kanu on opposite sides, was initially organised as part of activities during the AU summit.
There were doubts on whether the match would still take place in Malawi after the change in the hosts of the summit.
AU decided to shift the venue from Lilongwe to Addis Ababa following Malawi Government's stance that it would execute a warrant of arrest for Sudanese president Omar Al Bashir for war crimes.
However, the pan African NGO Coalition has decided to stand with Malawi in solidarity with the stance taken by President Joyce Banda.
"We believe the Malawian Government has demonstrated a clear intention to respect the commitments made to African citizens contained in important continental and international instruments that promote democratic governance and respect for human rights," Chairperson of State of the Union, Paula Monjane, said.
A statement from the organisations faults AU for the sudden change of the venue for the summit.
"The last minute insistence by the AU was regrettable. It placed the Government of Malawi in an impossible situation. By continuing to travel to Malawi, we hope to partially realize the opportunity of celebrating with Malawians their new found democratic dispensation and the succession of the second female President in Africa as well as supporting the recovery of their economy," Yves Niyiragira of Fahamu, one of the members of the coalition, said.
The Grand Unity football match will take place between two teams made up of a diverse group of men and women citizens from 21 countries.
The teams are currently being following by 20,000 people from all over the world.
"They are united by their love for football and their continent. Originally planned as an opportunity to publicise the African Union and provide a platform for leaders and citizens to dialogue on how to take development and justice forward, the match will provide an avenue for Malawians to reflect on Malawi's role in Africa," the statement reads in part.