LILONGWE - A court in Malawi has adjourned a treason trial against a former foreign minister and other high-ranking former government officials until April 16.
Peter Mutharika, brother of Malawi’s late president Bingu wa Mutharika, and other high-profile figures, were yesterday arraigned in court for allegedly trying to get the military to stage a coup.
Ex-leader Mutharika died of a heart attack on April 5, 2012. According to Malawi’s constitution, the vice president is to be sworn in following the death of a sitting president.
The government contends that the accused officials undermined the constitution by plotting to prevent then-vice president Joyce Banda from being installed as president following Mutharika’s death.
Peter Mutharika, the former foreign minister, who Bingu had allegedly been grooming for presidency, asked the military to assume power after his brother’s death. He is accused of seeking to block Banda from taking over.
“People from Peter Mutharika’s party feel they will not get a free trial ... Some of them feel that President Joyce Banda and her party are on a witch-hunt,” Al-Jazeera reported.
“They feel that this could be a ploy to make sure that Peter Mutharika and his party does not compete in next year’s presidential election, because there is a concern that if this trial is still ongoing come June next year, he won’t be able to stand.”
However, the Malawian government says it is in no way trying to single out Peter Mutharika or the other people accused, and that the charges are not politically motivated.