Partisans of Malawi opposition United
Democratic Front are expressing their frustration after the party's
presidential candidate was arrested and released shortly over graft charges
were brought against him. They described the arrest of former President Bakili
Muluzi as yet another political manipulation by President Bingu Wa Mutharika's
government to win this year's election.
But the government sharply denies the accusation.
Former President Muluzi was arrested on charges of stealing millions of dollars
given to the country by international donors, in a case that could potentially
damage his bid to run for president again in the May 19 general election. The
election is expected to be hotly contested between incumbent president
Mutharika and the former president.
Muluzi told reporter Peter Clottey he is
innocent of the charges, claiming that his arrest was politically motivated.
me start by saying that four years ago in 2005, the Anti-Corruption Bureau
(ACB) took me to court on similar allegations they are making about public
money. And then the charges were dropped and then the government dismissed the
director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau and also the director of public
prosecution that time. So, yesterday I was invited to go to the offices of ACB,
which I obliged and went there today and the same charges were brought up and
they gave me bail to come to the house. So, I'm speaking to you from home," Muluzi pointed out.
He denied transferring
public money into his personal bank account.
"You know when people talk
about that as somebody who was in government for 10 years I'm saying do they
know what they are talking about? There is nowhere in the world where a donor
would write a check to a personal account in my name. It is not possible. It is
absolutely impossible and it never happens. You know the procedure in
government that whenever there is an agreement monies are paid into account
number one Malawi. No individual can receive money meant for government in his
name. It is absolutely impossible and this is just propaganda," he said.
Muluzi would not comment on
allegations that there are inconsistencies in his earnings while he was
president of Malawi.
"I would not want to comment
about that. I mean let's go to court and there I would give you the side of my
story. I've got a team of lawyers and it is not something which is worrying me,
but I would not want to talk about that. I mean I have a party to run and there
is no way I can keep government money for the purposes of running the party. It
is not possible I repeat. But those details will be given in court when time
comes. I am completely innocent, I can tell you that," Muluzi noted.
He said most people seem not
to understand Malawi's Constitution and the criteria for who can run for the
"You see this is what people
don't understand the Malawi Constitution provides that you cannot be allowed to
stand if you are a convicted person. I'm not a convicted person. These are just
allegations and we haven't gone to a court. So, it is not correct and I am a
presidential candidate ahead of the general elections," he said.
Muluzi said incumbent President
Mutharika's ruling party is not confident of victory in this year's election.
"I think they are afraid.
They are completely frightened. If they were not why would they be doing all
these? And let me tell you that we just had the former president of Mozambique
President Joachim Chissano and former President of Ghana John Kufuor just to
make sure that tension should be brought down. And even before they left the
country I mean President Chissano left just this afternoon, why would you want
to bring issues like these now?" Muluzi asked.
Ex-President Muluzi stepped down in 2004 after
unsuccessfully trying to change the constitution to allow him to stand
again. He however, remains a powerful
Muluzi is constitutionally barred to stand for reelection
after serving two consecutive terms as Malawi president from 1994 to 2004. The
electrical commission is expected to soon rule on the eligibility of the former
president to stand as the presidential candidate for the opposition United
Democratic Front party in the May19 general election.
It is not yet clear if the case will prevent the former
president for contesting the poll. Some political analysts however believe that
any attempt to disqualify the former president could plunge the country into
chaos, contending that supporters of the former president might violently
protest his disqualification.