Malawi ‘coup plotters’ to spend another night in police cell

Opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) acting President Peter Mutharika and other top officials arrested in connection of the alleged coup plot following the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika will spend another night in the cooler as they have failed to appear before the Lilongwe Magistrate Court for bail application.

Mutharika, fired Chief Secretary Bright Msaka and nine others including Economic Planning and Development Minister Goodall Gondwe,  were expected to apply for bail Tuesday afternoon, but the law enforcers failed to take the coup plotters to court where they could have been formally charged because there was no readily available Magistrate to preside over the matter.

Sources have also told Nyasa Times that the State prosecutors are deliberately choking the bail application process as National Police Prosecutor Happy Mkandawire whereabouts is not known.

“I can confirm that currently we are failing to trace the magistrate as well as Mr Happy Mkandawire. The magistrate was communicated about the case and was expected to hear the bail application this afternoon, but his phone is switched off and is not in office,” said Mutharika’s personal assistant, Ben Phiri.

Peter Mutharika suspect treated with dignity as he takes full English breakfast in police cell and reads newspaper

Peter Mutharika suspect treated with dignity as he takes full English breakfast in police cell and reads newspaper

Phiri said they were currently at Police national Headquarters at Area 30 in Lilongwe together with the lawyers to push for the bail and that officers are keeping on pushing the files from one office to the other.

Peter Mutharika;No bail yet

Peter Mutharika;No bail yet

Scores of DPP supporters, who were singing anti-government songs, thronged the Lilongwe Magistrate Court upon learning their leader would be taken to court for bail application, but apparently they waited in vain as nothing of that nature happened by close of business Tuesday.

Reports emanating from the capital city also indicate that the detainees namely Mutharika, Patricia Kaliati, Nicolas Dausi, Kondwani Nankhumwa, Dr Jean Kalirani, Symon Vuwa Kaunda, Dr Goodall Gondwe, Bright Msaka, Henry Mussa, Duncan Mwapasa and Necton Mhura would be taken to court on Thursday.

“We just got tipped that they want Mutharika and others to spend nights in police cell up to Thursday. But we will se how far we can go,” Phiri added.

But one of the defence lawyers, Kalekeni Kaphale said the court game them Thursday as the day they could be heard on bail application. He  explained  they can still apply for bail earlier than Thursday.

“Court gave us Thursday date but that does not stop us applying for the bail earlier. The moment they are taken to court we will apply for bail,” said Kaphale.

He said the suspects had their statements recorded on Monday.

The 11 were detained on Monday after they were figured out as individuals who were part of the plot to foil President Joyce Banda’s ascendency to the Office of the President as provided for in the Republican Constitution.

Meanwhile, DPP has described the arrest of its acting president Mutharika and other top officials as a “blatant political try on”.

DPP regional governor for the South, Noel Masangwi, who accompanied Mutharika as he handed himself over to police in Blantyre, described the arrest of the acting DPP president and other party’s officials as political.

And former first lady Callista Mutharika has stormed:” I did not expect Joyce Banda to do this because she was selected as a vice-president by Bingu wa Mutharika. Joyce Banda is a woman, but she has shown no compassion but only brought shame to DPP and the Mutharika family.”

But government has denied the accusations, saying the arrests were the natural consequence of an ongoing investigation, a statement backed by Malawi Law Society.

Malawi Police made the arrests after the Commission of Inquiry report on the death of late president Bingu wa Mutharika revealed a plot to circumvent the Constitution and stop then Vice President Joyce Banda from ascending to power.

Peter Mutharika in the polic ecell being visited by a relation while reading a newspaper and having a full  English breakfast

Peter Mutharika in the polic ecell being visited by a relation while reading a newspaper and having a full English breakfast

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