Fresh diplomatic tiff, Malawi links Sata to coup plot

The diplomatic  relations  between Lilongwe and Lusaka which was said to be mended risks to strained again  following statements by Malawi President’s spokesman linking Zambia’s President Michael Sata to a coup plot.

As an opposition leader, Sata was deported from Malawi in 2006 by the Bingu wa  Mutharika government when he was visiting former President Bakili Muluzi.

Mutharika’s spokesman Hetherwick Ntaba on Friday told state radio MBC that during Sata’s visit, Muluzi was scheming  a plot with other opposition leaders to undermine the Mutharika administration and unseat the Head of State.

Ntaba: Why solve the problem of his own creation

He claimed Sata’s visit could have been part of the conspiracy.

Ntaba was making the remarks to justify why  Malawi government will take Sata’s reconciliation call with a pinch of a salt, following a meeting with Muluzi in Lusaka recently.

He doubted the former president’s role as an intermediary in a row which Muluzi, according to Ntaba, created.

“Why should he solve a problem he created himself?” Ntaba said on MBC.

Muluzi was in 2008 arrested on suspicion of being involved in a plot to overthrow the government and three army senior officers were also arrested on suspicion of being part of a plot to oust President Mutharika.

But the trumped up case failed to see the light of the day. The military officers including former Army General late Joseph Chimbayo have since received compensation for wrongful imprisonment.

Zambian information minister Given Lubinda has said Malawi  government spokespersons should  “stop being dogmatic” and listen to Muluzi on the message from Sata.

Muluzi says since his return to Zambia, he has not been accorded an opportunity to deliver the message to the President.

After meeting Muluzi, Sata told reporters the former Malawian president had managed to persuade him to end the row with the government of Mutharika.

“We feel that Malawi and Zambia are bigger than Michael Sata and Bingu wa Mutharika,” Sata said.

“I have agreed and I have given [Muluzi] a message to convey to President Bingu wa Mutharika that as far as I am concerned let bygones be bygones.”

Sata was denied entry into Malawi in 2007 and deported upon arrival after being declared a prohibited immigrant.

Since coming to power in elections last year, President Sata has demanded an apology from the Malawi government; Lilongwe has refused but withdrew his Prohibited Immigrant status.

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