Opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has claimed that the arrest of its acting president Peter Mutharika and other top officials for an alleged coup plot after the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika in April last year is a “blatant political try on”.
But government has denied the accusations, saying the arrests were the natural consequence of an ongoing investigation.
The 11 who were detained on Monday, who included the Economic Planning Minister Goodall Gondwe and Government’s Chief Secretary Bright Msakat, were found by an official inquiry to have tried to prevent then vice-president Joyce Banda from taking power, as stipulated in the constitution.
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.
“This is a blatant political try on,” claimed Masangwi.
Mutharika’s personal assistant Ben Phiri also sounded similar claims in the capital Lilongwe when he commandeered hundreds of DPP supporters who came to pay vigil at a Lumbadzi police station.
Phiri accused government of a “smear attempt”, designed to sabotage his boss’s campaign to unseat President Joyce Banda in next year’s elections.
“This is a political case,” Phiri told Nyasa Times.
“People are dying of hunger, instead of dealing with the economic hardships, they are dealing with this case,” he added.
But Minister of Information and Civic Education Moses Kunkuyu dismissed the assertions.
“It’s not political. It’s not about Joyce Banda,” Kunkuyu said.
Kunkuyu said the “law enforcement agencies in the country are of the strong view that certain criminal offences were committed by certain individuals. As a result, several arrests have been made.”
Kunkuyu, who is government spokesman, said the arrests follow an official Commission of Inquiry on late Mutharika.
Its findings, revealed last week, showed Mutharika died of a heart attack on his way to hospital in Lilongwe on April 5, and not on April 7 in South Africa, as originally claimed by the government and Mutharika’s family.
The report also revealed that Peter Mutharika, who was then foreign minister, and former finance minister Goodall Gondwe attempted to convince the army to take over and stop Banda from ascending to power.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :