Protests erupt in Malawi over coup plotters' bail hearing

Malawi police have arrested 11 ex-ministers and senior government officials, including the former president's brother, for an alleged coup plot. (AFP)

Malawi police have arrested 11 ex-ministers and senior government officials, including the former president's brother, for an alleged coup plot. (AFP)

Fresh protests have erupted over their arrests. "The courts have set Thursday for the hearing of the case, because police are still investigating some aspects of the case," Malawi's Information Minister Moses Kunkuyu said on Tuesday.

Malawi's police on Monday arrested the 11, including the ex-president's brother and a serving minister, for the alleged coup plot.

The group are accused of trying to prevent then vice-president Banda from assuming power last year after the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika.

Former foreign affairs minister Peter Mutharika – the brother of the late leader and his heir apparent – was charged with perjury and soliciting to break the law, said his assistant Ben Phiri.

Police and government sources said the others detained include the former ministers for local government, information, finance and sports as well as top civil servants.

Violence and riots
The current minister of economic planning, Goodall Gondwe, was also among those held. The arrests sparked violence in the main city Blantyre on Monday and spread to the capital Lilongwe on Tuesday, where riot police fired teargas to disperse a rowdy crowd.

Eyewitnesses said the protesters, mostly supporters of Mutharika's Democratic Progressive Party, attempted to surround the police station in Lilongwe where he was being held and hurled missiles at police.

It was not clear if the suspects would also face the more serious charge of treason, which could carry the death sentence. The plot was alleged to have taken place amid the chaos of Bingu wa Mutharika's death in April last year.

Last week an inquest ruled that Mutharika died of a heart attack on the way to hospital after collapsing at the state house. But his death was not confirmed for two days and his body was flown to South Africa as would-be successors sought to buy time.

Six ministers, including then local government minister Henry Mussa, held a late-night news conference a day after Mutharika's death to insist he was still alive.

Under the Constitution, Banda was next in line to become president. But Mutharika was grooming his brother Peter to succeed him. Banda was eventually sworn in on April 7 after backroom dealings.

On Tuesday, two of the alleged coup plotters – Gondwe and ex-health minister Jean Kalilani – were being treated for hypertension in hospital, said lead defence lawyer Kalekeni Kaphale.

The remaining suspects were "in good health and spirits". – AFP

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus

Client Media Releases

Mind the gap!
Traffic deviation on N1 Polokwane Eastern ring road
SA motor industry keeps improving itself
SMS takes to the waves
Become a social media master
5-day, PECB-certified ISO 22301 Lead Implementer course
Look ma: no hands
2017 SAAMA Conference
Donations benefit a school and its community