News / Africa

Malawi Police Arrest Alleged Coup Plotters

Supporters of former Foreign Affairs minister flee tear gas on March 11, 2013 during a demonstration in Blantyre.
Supporters of former Foreign Affairs minister flee tear gas on March 11, 2013 during a demonstration in Blantyre.
Lameck Masina
Police in Malawi have arrested top politicians in the former ruling Democratic Progressive Party in connection with the delayed transfer of power after the death of former president Bingu wa Mutharika in April.

Malawi police spokesperson Rhoda Manjolo confirmed the early Monday arrests, but said little else, noting an investigation is still underway.

“The operation is going on, therefore it is not fair for us [the police] to be mentioning names because there are other people who have not been arrested.  But we are confirming the arrest of some people,” said Manjolo.

Information Minister Moses Kunkuyu said 10 people were in custody.

Among them are believed to be former information minister Patricia Kaliati; former deputy foreign affairs minister Kondwani Nankhumwa; former local government minister Henry Mussa; and former deputy minister in the president’s office, Nicholas Dausi.

Acting DPP president Peter Mutharika, surrendered himself at the regional police headquarters in Blantyre.  He later told local radio he has yet to be charged.

"I have [not] been charged yet.  I have not seen any charge," he said.  "But we are law abiding people, so we are going to abide by whatever procedures they have.”
 
The arrests follow last week's report wrapping up a nine-month inquiry into the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika.  The report established the president died on April 5th, and not on the seventh as earlier indicated.

The 90-page document said Mutharika was dead when the government flew him out of Malawi to a South African hospital on the night of April 5.

The report concluded DPP party officials changed President Mutharika’s death date in a deliberate attempt to prevent Joyce Banda, who was then vice president and not a member of the DPP, from succeeding him and being sworn in as president.

Those arrested could be charged with various offenses, ranging from conspiracy to break the law and obstructing state officials from conducting their duties.

The late president's family has denounced the inquiry as unjustified and a political witch hunt.  Peter Mutharika is the late president's brother.

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