Mutharika in hospital, Ntaba says still ‘in control’

Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika is attending to medical attention at a foreign clinic, sparking a volley of speculation over his health.

Nyasa Times understands that Mutharika 78, accompanied by his wife, Callista, left Australia  after the Commonwealth Heads of State summit for Singapore to seek “specialised treatment” following some medical difficulties.

His spokesman Hetherwick Ntaba refused to disclose the exact location of the President but confirmed and earlier report by Nyasa Times that Mutharika has taken a holiday.

“The president stopped somewhere on the way to have a brief holiday,” Ntaba said.

Mutharika: Stopped somewhere

Ntaba speaking Friday on Daybreak Malawi programme on Capital FM, a closely held private broadcaster, maintained that Mutharika “stopped somewhere for a short holiday.”

The presidential spokesman stressed Mutharika has a clean bill of health and that Malawians were not entitled to know where their Head of State was spending his “holiday.”

“I don’t think it’s important for people to know (where the President is spending his holiday),” said Ntaba.

“I think it’s important to know he is fine,” he added.

Medical experts say people of Mutharika’s age are expected to suffer a number of ailments.

Asked who is the acting president , Ntaba said Mutharika was still ruling through roaming: “The question of who is in control should not arise.”

He said Mutharika was still in control of the country affairs and still available to provide guidance on running of the country.

Ntaba said Mutharika “is reachable” and he will have “a few days off.”

He said Mutharika is entitled to a holiday and asked Malawians to give him “some privacy.”

University of Malawi constituent college associate law professor Edge Kanyongolo told the radio the constitution does not require that somebody must replace the president when he is outside the country.

Kanyongolo, who refused to say Mutharika would still be in control while abroad, said the laws clearly stipulate that he has been replaced when incapacitated or has been impeached.

Constitutionally, if the president is incapacitated the vice president will take over the reins until the next elections.

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