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Malawi’s ex-leader claims corruption probe is political

Malawi’s former president Bakili Muluzi asserted his innocence in a corruption investigation on Wednesday, describing plans to prosecute him for the alleged theft of $10-million as part of a plot to stop him from contesting May elections.

Malawi’s highest court opened the way for his prosecution with a ruling on Tuesday that struck down an injunction blocking the investigation into the theft of international aid. The Supreme Court of Appeal declared that no one is above the law.

The ruling comes days before candidates must submit nominations for the May 19 general elections.

”All this is political,” Muluzi told the Associated Press in a telephone interview. ”They want to slow down my campaign because they fear me. They want me to be busy in courts.”

The Anti-Corruption Bureau had arrested Muluzi in 2006 alleging that he had diverted about $10-million in donor funds to his personal account. The money was from Taiwan, Egypt, Kuwait and Libya and was donated for building dams and roads in the impoverished southern African nation that Muluzi governed from 1994 to 2004.

Muluzi stepped down as required by law after serving two consecutive terms and hand-picked his successor, economist Bingu wa Mutharika, who won the 2004 elections. But the two men have fallen out and Mutharika formed his own party, charging Muluzi and others in his party disapproved of his tough anti-corruption drive. — Sapa-AP

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