Malawi ex-leader Muluzi held on coup charge

Former Malawian president Bakili Muluzi was arrested in connection with an alleged coup plot as he returned home from Britain on Sunday, his lawyer said.

Five members of Muluzi’s United Democratic Front (UDF) and three army generals were arrested last week on suspicion of being part of a plot to bring him to power, and an arrest warrant was issued for Muluzi.

“He was ordered to follow the soldiers at [Lilongwe] airport and [they] asked him to board a military helicopter,” Muluzi’s lawyer Fahad Assani said.

Muluzi became president in 1994 in an election that ended the dictatorship of Hastings Kamuzu Banda and one-party rule, and held power for 10 years.

His successor, Bingu wa Mutharika, alienated many UDF members including Muluzi with a drive against corruption, and subsequently quit the UDF to form the Democratic Progressive Party.

Muluzi, who was briefly investigated for corruption in 2006, remains a powerful political force and has been endorsed by the UDF as its candidate in next year’s presidential election.

The other eight accused have all been released on bail.

The police and the army declined to comment on Muluzi’s arrest. - Reuters


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