Malawi Police erred on point of law in the manner they effected the arrests and charging of three opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) officials over a WhatsApp discussion that the police are claiming are treasonous, the Malawi Law Society (MLS) has said.
Police arrested MCP executive member Ulemu Msungama on Sunday, publicity secretary Jessie Kabwila on Monday and party legal director Peter Chakhwantha on Tuesday over a WhatsApp chat that purportedly talks about how President Peter Mutharika could be toppled.
According to the Police, the MCP members discussed how to conduct an insurrection similar to Egyptian revolt that brought down Hosni Mubarak after nearly three decades in power.
They have charged all the three with a serious offence of treason after they initially obtained warrants of arrest for sedition. They have all been released on police bail without taking them to court.
The Law Society honorary secretary Khumbo Soko said the Bail Guidelines Act stipulates that police cannot grant bail to a person charged with serious offences like treason, murder, rape, armed robbery and burglary which he said are offences punishable by death.
Soko said the police were supposed to bring the suspects to appear before the High Court for hearing before it could release them on bail.
Police spokesperson Nicholas Gondwa said he did not know “what happened,” for the alleged coup plotters to get bail at Police before taking them to High Court.
According to the press, Gondwa said police indicated sedition as a “holding charge” but the formal charge which the three have been recorded statement on is treason.
He said the two charges are “ interrelated.”
Malawian law expert based at University of Cape Town, Danwood Chirwa, is also quoted saying the arrests are illegal and indicative of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party being in disarray and at war with itself.
MCP has rejected accusations by police that its members were part of a plan to topple the government by violent means.
Meanwhile, MCP regional Members of the north has described recent arrest of its officials as “cheap politics” by DPP.
Speaking during a news conference in Mzuzu, MCP vice chairperson for Viphya Region Gracious Mafeni S oko said the nation is having many problems that need the government attention and that instead of concentrating on solving the economic challenges facing the country, the regime is busy arresting people “to divert attention.”
“The DPP government want just to divert the attention of people from the suffering,” said Soko.
MCP has been calling on President Mutharika to resign following the economic meltdown.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :