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Malawi Number of arrested Malawi ex-ministers, senior officials rises to 10


Xinhuanet | | Commenter |Imprimer

The total number of Malawi's ex- ministers arrested for various roles they allegedly played during former president Bingu wa Mutharika's demise reached 10 late Monday.

Malawi Information Minister Moses Kunkuyu and the police separately confirmed the development to local media, saying the 10 were going to answer various charges following the report on Mutharika's death enquiry, which was released earlier in the month.

The 10 include the acting president for the then ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and former foreign minister, Peter Mutharika; Economic Planning & Development (EP&D) Minister Goodall Gondwe; Chief Secretary to the State Bright Msaka; his then deputy Necton Mhura; and former presidential guard commander Duncan Mwapatsa.

The list also comprises the six cabinet ministers who held a press briefing at midnight on April 6, 2012, about 38 hours after Mutharika had died of heart failure at around 11:20 a.m. local time on April 5, 2012, denouncing President Joyce Banda's eligibility to take over.

The ex-ministers, popularly known as "The Midnight Six" in the local media, are former information minister Patricia Kaliati, former local government minister Henry Mussa, former health minister Jean Kalilani, former sports minister Vuwa Kaunda, Deputy Foreign Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa, and former deputy minister in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) Nicholas Dausi.

Meanwhile, the police and DPP sympathizers clashed in Blantyre, where Peter Mutharika handed himself in to the police following a warrant of arrest issued for him Monday morning.

An eyewitness in Blantyre told Xinhua that hundreds of DPP followers clad in party cloth stormed Chichiri Central Prison, where Mutharika and other suspects were kept in custody, demanding their release.

"The protestors blocked the High Way with logs, burned tires in the middle of the road and they stoned vehicles passing by," said the eyewitness, adding, "The police had to disperse them with teargas and two protestors suffocated during the fracas."

The source said the situation worsened when the police locked Mutharika in a police van to move him to the capital Lilongwe, where other suspects were held in custody.

On the same day, late president Mutharika's widow Callista Mutharika, who joined the hundreds at Chichiri central Prison, condemned the arrests describing them as "an act of witch-hunting and political in nature."

"I am very angry with what has happened and this is quite in contrast with what has been preached in the country and world over that women should be promoted to take decision-making positions because they are compassionate.

"Politics is playing a hand in all this and, once again, I am very disappointed," said Callista Mutharika sounding very emotional and tearful.

Peter Mutharika and his fellow suspects who were kept at Chichiri Central Prison in Blantyre have been moved to Lilongwe under a very heavy guard.

Incidentally reports said the detained EP&D minister, Godall Gondwe, suffered from hypertension while in police's hands in Lilongwe, where immediate medical attention was sought.

Gondwe's physician, Dr. Hetherwick Ntaba, confirmed the development to the local media on Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, thousands of DPP sympathizers are reported to have stormed Lilongwe Police Station in protest to the arrests.

A report on president Mutharika's death on in April 2012 implicated many ex-senior officials and serving government officials, whom the report says played a role in concealing Mutharika's demise and attempting to bar President Banda, then vice president, from taking over power as the constitution dictates.

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