Peter Mutharika charged with two counts, caged: Malawi failed coup

Opposition DPP acting president Peter Mutharika, who handed himself over to police in Blantyre in the morning of Monday, arrived in Lilongwe in the afternoon and charged with two counts.

Mutharika who was welcomed by hundreds of DPP supporters who converged at National Police Headquarters (Area 30) in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, demanding his release and that of the party’s officials implicated in the Commission of Inquiry report into the death of former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika, was formally charged.

He has been slapped with a charge of soliciting to break the law which is contrary to section 124 of the penal code. He has also been charged with perjury.

But his personal assiatnt Ben Phiri responded by accusing the government of a “smear attempt”, designed to sabotage Mutharika’s campaign to unseat President Joyce Banda in next year’s elections.

Chala Mwamba! Arrested Peter Mutharika in police car.-Photo by Maurice Mkahiwe/Nyasa Times

Chala Mwamba! Arrested Peter Mutharika in police car.-Photo by Maurice Mkahiwe/Nyasa Times

DPP supporters chanting for Peter Mutharika.-Photo by Maurice Mkahiwe/Nyasa Times

DPP supporters chanting for Peter Mutharika.-Photo by Maurice Mkahiwe/Nyasa Times

Mutharika 'new motorcade' police moving cell.-Photo by Maurice Mkahiwe/Nyasa Times

Mutharika ‘new motorcade’ police moving cell.-Photo by Maurice Mkahiwe/Nyasa Times

DPP supporters in solidarity with their leader Peter Mutharika.-Photo by Maurice Mkahiwe/Nyasa Times

DPP supporters in solidarity with their leader Peter Mutharika.-Photo by Maurice Mkahiwe/Nyasa Times

Lawyers Kalekeni Kaphale and Chancuy Gondwe at police station to defend Peter Mutharika.- Photo by Maurice Mkahiwe/Nyasa Times

Lawyers Kalekeni Kaphale and Chancuy Gondwe at police station to defend Peter Mutharika.- Photo by Maurice Mkahiwe/Nyasa Times

“This is a political case,” Phiri told Nyasa Times.

“People are dying of hunger, instead of delaing with the economic hardships, they are dealing with this case,” he added.

Asked if Mutharika was fit and well to remain in police custody while processing bail applications, Phiri said the opposition leader is “in good health and strong.”

Mutharika is being held at Lumbadzi Police Station in Lilongwe.

Malawi’s government said it has arrested at least 10 former top government officials for allegedly plotting a coup to stop then-Vice President Joyce Banda from becoming president after the death of former President Bingu wa Mutharika last year.

The arrests Monday set off violence in the commercial capital, Blantyre, as supporters of Mutharika’s former ruling party protested in the streets. Police fired tear gas to break up the crowd.

The mob kept on throwing stones and chanting ‘walila nalo boma miyezi itatu, walila nalo boma miyezi itatu.’

Information Minister Moses Kunkuyu said the arrests were carried out based on evidence in a report on the death of Mutharika in April. The report, presented to Banda last week, concluded that top officials at the time conspired to try to prevent Banda from assuming power.

Meanwhile, arrested Economic and Planning Minister Goodall Gondwe, former Information minister Patricia Kaliati and former Sports Minister Symon Vuwa Kaunda have suffered hypertension in police custody.

George Chaponda, secretary general for opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), has confirmed the development, saying he visited the three in police custody in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, and found them in ‘bad shape’.

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