Mzuzu queue to view Mutharika's body

Former President Bingu wa Mutharika’s remains arrived at the Mzuzu Airport aboard a Malawi Defence Force Donnier plane at 08: 48am to solemn and sombre mood accompanied by dirges.

Malawi Vice President Khumbo Kachali, accompanied by the former first Lady Callista Mutharika led Malawians in welcoming the remains.

Head of the Catholic Church in Malawi Bishop Mkasa Zuza with his entourage, Bishop Martin Mtumbuka of the Karonga Diocese, Bishop Emmanuel Kanyama of Dedza Diocese and Bishop Fanuel Magangani of Anglican Diocese of Northern Malawi, prayed for Mutharika’s remains at the airport before departure to State lodge.

Widow Callista Mutharika and Malawi Vice President Khumbo Kachali in Mzuzu

Reverend Levi Nyondo General secretary and Moderator Clifford Baloyi of the Livingstonia Synod were also present.

People in Mzuzu and the whole northern region will pay their last respects starting Wednesday and Thursday at the Mzuzu State House and later on Thursday the body will airlifted to Blantyre where people in the Southern region will also pay their last respects before burial on April 23 at Ndata Farm in Thyolo district.

Mutharika succumbed to cardiac arrest on April 5, 2012 in Lilongwe.

Former President Mutharika’s arrival, this time in a golden casket draped with the country’s national flag, marks nearly nine months since the former leader set foot in this northern city.

People lined the M1 road to Karonga, as part of it runs parallel to this mostly disused airfield, while others lined the M5 road to Nkhata Bay and Orton Chirwa avenue, which is also the way to the Mzuzu State House.

Some followed the funeral cortege on foot to the State Lodge while those in offices came out to have a glimpse of the casket.

The last time Mutharika was in Mzuzu was in August 2011 when he hosted a binge party at Mzuzu stadium for his DPP stalwarts, many of them vendors, a month after Police killed 10 people following anti-government protests over a dwindling economic environment and poor governance.

The party was the climax of his visit after he had toured shops, houses and other property that were looted, razed or vandalized.

But on Wednesday even those had opposed Mutharika’s heavy-handed government came to pay their respects.

Mutharika's casket drapped in national flag
Military officers carry Mutharika's casket

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