Mutharika told to move on, bury the hatchet

Malawi President Peter Mutharika has been advised to desist from dwelling on past issues and move on as a statesman after he has repeatedly claimed that there was an assassination plot on his life during the time when he was in police custody after being arrested on treason charges.

The President has been addressing political rallies claiming there was an attempt on his life, saying  former ruling People’s Party (PP)  operatives plotted to kill him while in custody at Lumbadzi Police Station in Lilongwe so that he does not  contest in the May 20 Tripartite Elections.

Mutharika was charged with treason in March 2013 after being accused of plotting a coup. He denied the charge of attempting to bar former president Joyce Banda from constitutionally assuming the presidency following the death of then president Bingu wa Mutharika.

Mutharika: Why making the claims against Odillo now?
Mutharika: Why making the claims against Odillo now?

But Malawi’s flagship daily newspaper, The Nation, in its editorial on Monday said the bitterness displayed in the speeches made by the President “one wonders what happened to the olive branch. Has it dropped from his hand?”

During his inauguration as Malawi leader after winning disputed May 20 elections. Mutharika offered an “olive branch” to ex-leader Joyce Banda and all political foes.

The newspaper’s editorial comment noted that President Mutharika, who is in a privileged position as he cannot be sued for defamation, “has made some very serious allegations against some former public officers who, unfortunately, are not in a position to be fairly heard or respond.”

It cited the allegations against former Malawi Defence Force (MDF) commander General Henry Odillo that the general “lied” that Mutharika and company wanted to stop then estranged vice-president Joyce Banda from ascending to the presidency.

“In all fairness, Mutharika was asked the same questions by the commission of inquiry but he chose not to give responses, according to the inquiry report. Why turn around now and attack a defenceless Odillo?” the editorial questioned.

On the plot to assassinate Mutharika while in police custody at Lumbadzi, the paper said “it is difficult to believe the President now, especially considering the fact that as  ‘underdogs’  in opposition then, so to speak, they always cried the loudest at every suspicion. How come he kept quiet all along on such a serious issue and only cared to cry foul over mosquitoes in a police cell?”

The paper “humbly” appealed to the President to desist from dwelling on past issues, “many of which are trivial anyway, and focus on programmes that will move this country forward.”

It pointed out that “listening to the President’s speeches at rallies, the adage the more things change the more they remain the same seems to be true for Malawians.”

Mutharika’s treason trial was dropped as he now enjoys presidential immunity.

An official inquiry found he had asked the military to take over after his brother’s death in 2012.

The military refused, opening the way for Banda, then the vice president, to assume the presidency, the inquiry found.

According to Malawian laws the vice-president automatically takes over power once the office of the president is left vacant through death, incapacity or impeachment.

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