Written by YAMIKANI SIMUTOWE
BLANTYRE—Leader of former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Peter Mutharika has handed in himself to police in Blantyre where he is expected to be questioned about his party's resistance to hand over power to then Vice Pres. Joyce Banda after the death of Pres. Bingu wa Mutharika in April last year.
Mutharika arrived at the Southern Region Police Monday morning at around 10: 15 am and was accompanied by senior DPP officials and supporters who were chanting anti-government songs.
The angry supporters demanded that their president be driven to Lilongwe in his vehicle not a police van, dubbed as ‘Black Maria’ and at some point they blocked the road leading to the police premises.
Other senior DPP officials who have been arrested include former local government minister Henry Mussa, party spokesperson Nicolas Dausi, former DPP vice president and current economic and planning minister Goodall Gondwe, former deputy foreign affairs minister Kondwani Nankhumwa and former information minister Patricia Kaliati.
“I came here because I was asked to come and I'm right at Southern Region Headquarters for questioning. I understand I will be taken to Lilongwe where I will join the others; we are just waiting for transport.
“I have not yet been charged, and I don’t have an idea of the charge to be leveled against me,” said Mutharika.
The police have also picked former presidential guard commander Duncan Mwapasa for questioning.
According to the findings of the Commission of Inquiry into the death of Bingu wa Mutharika, DPP senior officials tried to circumvent the constitution by blocking Banda from assuming the Office of the President because she had formed her party, People’s Party (PP) after being expelled from DPP.
DPP officials in one of the cabinet meetings resolved to hand over power to Goodall Gondwe, contrary to Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Ephraim Mganda Chiume’s advice that the Malawi Constitution was very clear that the vice president should assume power.
The report says Kaliati, Nankhumwa, Mussa, Dausi, Jean Kalirani, Simon Vuwa Kaunda provided the nation with wrong information about the death of the former president.
Their press statement, which was read to the general public on April 6 at midnight, gave the impression that Joyce Banda wasn't eligible to succeed Mutharika. Their resistance to hand over power to Banda could've breached the constitution. The suspects could face treason charges, according to some legal experts.
Pres. Mutharika died suddenly on April 5. He won reelection in a landslide in 2009. Banda was sworn in as president to finish the remainder of his term in 2004.
(c) The Maravi Post 2013