Sources have indicated that the police in Malawi have arrested 11-ex ministers and senior government officials for an alleged coup plot to overthrow current President Joyce Banda. This group of coup plotters are said to have tried last year already to prevent Banda from becoming president after the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika.
Notably, among those arrested was the former president’s brother – former Foreign Affairs minister, Peter Mutharika – who expected to succeed the late president. Others arrested included the former minister for local government, information, finance and sport. Moreover, the current Minister of Economic Planning, Goodall Gondwe, was among the accused.
The arrest has sent shock waves throughout the country and resulted in numerous demonstrations in the landlocked state. Following the announcement, police fired teargas into a crowd of around 500 people who had gathered outside the police headquarters in Blantyre. The protestors refused to disperse however and retaliated by throwing stones. Later on, another 1 000 demonstrators gathered nearby and blocked the main highway leading into the city with boulders and branches.
The accused have been sent to Lilongwe and are “likely to be charged with treason,” according to a senior police officer.
The plot is alleged to have been planned amid the chaos of Mutharika’s death in April last year, during which the former president’s death was not confirmed for two days. At the time, the former president was disguised under the name ‘Daniel Phiri’ and his body was flown to South Africa to give the Malawian government enough time to plot succession. While Peter expected to take over the top position in the country, Banda was sworn in as per the Constitution.
Analysts have said that government must now “proceed with caution and make sure that it has sufficient evidence to secure a conviction, otherwise it might look like political prosecution,” which in turn could spark violence in the relatively peaceful.