Callista leads vigil: Malawi ‘coup’ suspects refuse Maula Prison, returns to Police cell

Former First Lady, Callista Mutharika and thousands of opposition DPP supporters thronged the grounds of the Lilongwe Magistrates Court to attend a hearing of the 11 alleged coup plotters, who also include her brother-in-law, the DPP interim president Peter Mutharika.

After the court hearing, Callista Mutharika led DPP supporters to Maula Prison and she led supporters in chanting songs calling on authorities not to remand the suspects at the prison but return them to a police cell.

Scores of armed police officers, who were detailed to check for any sign of trouble, failed to control the crowd as they chanted anti-government songs.

Callista led the chorus of “Ambuye ndimenyeleni nkhondo.”

Callista Mutharika: Broke into song and dance.
Callista Mutharika: Broke into song and dance.

The supported also sung many songs demonizing the Joyce Banda administration.

“You may arrest and kill us,” went the chant, “but you won’t kill the revolution!”

The transfer of Mutharika and others from Lumbadzi Police Station to Maula Prison created drama with the suspects refusing to enter jail.

Police had diverted them there despite agreeing they would still sleep at Lumbazi police.

The suspects said their lawyers had agreed with the prosecution team that they would be remanded at Lumbazi and not Maula hence their refusal.

Mutharika and others were arrested for plotting to oust President Joyce Banda were earlier formally charged with treason which could carry the death penalty.

The men appeared at Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court amid tight security following rioting over their arrest.

The plot is alleged to have taken place amid the chaos following president Bingu wa Mutharika’s death on April 5 last year, before Banda, then his deputy, was installed as president after backroom dealings.

Goodall Gondwe, current minister of economic planning, is the only member of Banda’s cabinet arrested.

Gondwe, Peter Mutharika and Bright Msaka, the chief secretary to the government, face additional charges of inciting mutiny, conspiracy to commit a felony and giving false evidence to a commission of inquiry into the death of the late president.

Others includes former Cabinet ministers Patricia Kaliati, Symon Vuwa Kaunda, Henry Mussa and Jean Kalirani. Former deputy ministers Kondwani Nankhumwa and Nicholas Dausi are also on the list as are Msaka’s former deputy Necton Mhura and former presidential guard commander Duncan Mwapasa.

Allan Ntata the former legal affairs advisor to late former president Bingu wa Mutharika named in the saga, also charged with treason.

Last week an inquest ruled that Mutharika died of a heart attack on the way to hospital after collapsing at State House.

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