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Malawi: Vice President Released From House Arrest


A high court in the Malawian capital Lilongwe has ordered the release of vice president Cassim Chilumpha from further house arrest for allegedly planning to assassinate president Bingu Wa Mutharika. The judge also described Chilumpha’s bail conditions as stringent, and he says they infringe on the vice president’s human rights.

Fahad Assani is the lead attorney for Vice President Cassim Chilumpha. He talks about the judge’s ruling.

“In deed the court varied all the conditions, which were applicable to the vice president’s incarceration at his residence in Blantyre. What the judge now has said is that the vice president does not any more require the president’s permission to leave the official residence,” he said.

Assani said President Mutharika would likely not grant Chilumpha’s request to leave his residence because the president is biased.

“The president has shown that he is not willing to assist the vice president whenever a request has been made, and furthermore that since the president is an interested party in court, a complainant, he would not deal with the request with an independent mind,” Assani noted.

He explains the judge’s ruling.

“What has now transpired is that the vice president merely can inform the police that he is going wherever he wants to go, he does not need permission from anybody to do so. Furthermore, the court has allowed the vice president to undertake international trips whenever he desires as long as he informs a judge of a high court,” he said.

Assani said vice president Chilumpha was excited when he received news of the court’s ruling.

“He has been very exhilarated and very excited indeed when we spoke to him on the phone just before he was briefed personally. He was quite happy that for now at least justice is now getting into the way. This is because as we have always argued, that this whole thing is a set up. It never happened,” Assani said.

He said the vice president’s defense team would ask the state to restore everything he was stripped off since his arrest.

“We are going to formally of course approach the state to restore whatever he has been entitled to from the time they withdrew the necessities to his office and also the operations of his office…and we will ensure that government complies,” he said.

Assani said Vice President Chilumpha first plans to visit his ailing mother upon his release.

“The first thing that he actually confirmed to me when we spoke is that he wants to see his ill mother. He’s got a bed-ridden mother in the village and he would wish to visit her immediately, and secondly he is a politician and he needs to be in touch with the people that support him in his party,” Assani said.

He said supporters of the vice president were on hand to greet and cheer him on to the displeasure of the police.

“In fact yesterday there was quite a huge mob that came to wish him well. Of course, the police somehow they were a bit intrusive and obstructive. But anyway he still met quite a lot of people that came to see him at his official residence. So he has to move and talk to them, encourage them at the same time assure them that he is innocent,” he said.

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