Mutharika ‘signed’ Atupele’s warrant of arrest

Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika is said to have ‘signed’ the arrest warrant for opposition lawmaker and presidential aspirant Atupele Muluzi after Police failed to get striking court magistrates to issue the warrant, Nyasa Times understands.

Nyasa Times journalists have been asking Police about information on the court authority which issued the warrant of arrest but the Police has not been forthcoming with information.

Now sources at the Area 30 Police Headquarters informed that President Mutharika himself issued the arrest orders for  Atupele.

Mutharika: Accuses Atupele for 'sheer arrogance'

Lawyer for Atupele, Kalekeni Kaphale, said he had not seen the warrant, but hinted that he was seeking “explanation” from the Police Inspector General Peter Mukhito on the way the arrest was ordered.

President Mutharika in a media statement  accused Atupele for “sheer arrogance and lawlessness” by holding the planned political meetings after Police had told him not to go ahead.

Police has since pressed two charges to Atupele. He is charged with an offence of proposing violence contrary to Section 86 of the Penal code. Another charge if of conducting a rally without authorization contrary to provisions of the Police Act.

Atupele, the 33-year-old son of former Head of State, Bakili Muluzi, has denied any wrong doing- en masse. He is liable for bail under the constitution but remains incarcerated.

Human rights defenders also criticized the heavy handedness of Police when lawyer Kaphale went to meet Atupele. They met under a watchful eye of the O.C. a Mrs Sato and another officer who stayed in the room through the whole meeting. In terms of natural justice, a lawyer for a defendant is to have private time with a client by law.

Several opposition parties have condemned Atupele’s arrest saying it is a political move to silence critics of President Mutharika’s administration.

But Mutharika said he is “not amused at all with what happened in Area 24 on March 18.”

According to a statement Mutharika issued through his spin doctor Hetherwick Ntaba, the President “strongly condemns Atupele Muluzi and his UDF supporters for property damage and the act of lawlessness displayed by people in the area.”

 Mutharika said the planned whistle stop meetings would have been cancelled.

Atupele, the Machinga North east parliamentarian,  is seeking to be the presidential candidate for the UDF, the party that governed Malawi for ten years under his father.

The UDF won the third multiparty election in 2004 under Mutharika, who dumped it to found his own Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Mutharika had earlier attempted for presidential seat in 1999 under his United Party but miserably failed and came last in the race until Atupele’s father, handpicked him and struggled to sell him to the electorate.

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