Malawi VP returns from Zambia, no arrest fears

Malawi Vice President Joyce Banda will on Thursday return from Zambia where she went to attend independence celebrations at the invitation of President Michael Sata, effectively putting to rest rumours that she was seeking asylum in the country.

Rumours were rife that Banda failed to return Wednesday because there was a plot by government to arrest her on return and press treason charges.

But her People’s Party officials and aides said the Vice President returns Thursday “arrest or no arrest.”

“Joyce Banda does not fear arrest. She is a top target of persecution crusade by the governmet but she remains resolute,” her aide told Nyasa Times.

Banda with former Zambia president Kenneth Kaunda

People’s Party spokesperson Stephen Mwenye said the VP was not seeking asylum and could not do so.

Mwenye said Banda was a fearless leader who could not go outside the country to seek international protection against persecution but will always fight on the front line against oppression.

Malawi says there’s no truth to rumours that it planned to arrest Vice President Joyce Banda on her

Government has however downplayed the arrest fears, describing it as drama.

Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa said according to Maravi Post that: “No single Police officer has instruction to arrest her, let her come home and play politics here.”

Nyasa Times sources said the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has been fabricating strategy documents implicating Banda, who is also leader of the People’s Party (PP), in an alleged coup plot against President Mutharika and his government.

The plotters have been concocting communications allegedly between the VP and various people, including others from the military and foreign nations, strategizing on how to wrestle power from Mutharika before his tenure of office ends in 2014.

A security officer close to the plot confided in Nyasa Times on Saturday that the VP was initially targeted for arrest on Friday, the day PP’s Secretary General Henry Chibwana was detained by Blantyre Police for “questioning” over a letter he allegedly authored and addressed to Banda.

In the letter, Chibwana was allegedly proposing that the PP retaliates the torching of its organizing secretary’s house in Area 47, Lilongwe. Salim Bagus’ house was set on fire by suspected state agents on Sunday, September 18, 2011.

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