Former Malawian President arrested by rival

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Malawi’s former president Bakili Muluzi has been placed under house arrest following his arrest earlier Sunday, a senior government official has confirmed. “Dr. Muluzi was air-lifted in a Malawi Defence Forces plane and is now under house arrest at his BCA Hill residence, he said.

The dornier plane carrying Muluzi, arrested on arrival from London where he was on a private visit, arrived in Blantyre through Chileka International Airport. Malenga said the former president was driven off to his residence in the upmarket Blantyre suburb of BCA Hill by police officers. “Police officers are currently interrogating him,” he said.

Malenga also said the police conducted a search at the residence. He could not be drawn to comment on whether the search turned up anything interesting.

Meanwhile, police have arrested several Muluzi supporters who were protesting his arrest. Thousands of people, who had gathered at Area 25 where Muluzi was scheduled to hold a public rally, surged on to the streets following the news of the arrest.

Young men were seen putting boulders on roads and burning tyres. Police opened fire on them, injuring three protesters. Several others were also beaten up by police. AUDF official, the Rev. Chande Mhone, was also serious beaten until he fell into a coma.

Muluzi’s arrest comes on the heels of the alleged coup plot which implicated the former president. Several UDF leaders and senior military officials, were arrested a fortnight ago in connection with the coup.

Heavily-armed police officers a fortnight ago arrested former Malawi Defence Forces Commander General Joseph Chimbayo, the former Inspector General of Police, Joseph Aironi, the former Mayor of the City of Blantyre, John Chikakwiya, and, the Secretary General of the United Democratic Front, Kennedy Makwangwala.

Brigadiers Marcel Chirwa, Cosgrove Mituka and Mtende were also arrested while former Director of the now-defunct National Intelligence Bureau Chitsulo Gama was taken in a day later.

The arrests followed assertions by President Binguwa Mutharika that the former president was planning to overthrow the government. The eight people arrested, except Gama, are out on bail.

Muluzi denies planning to topple the four-year-old administration of President Mutharika whom he ironically anointed as successor. There has been bad blood between Mutharika and Muluzi since the president dumped the UDF, to which Muluzi is its national chairman.

Mutharika was the UDF presidential candidate in the 2004 general elections but quit the party to found his own Democratic Progress Party (DPP) after accusing Muluzi and UDF leaders of corruption.

Muluzi, endorsed as the UDF presidential candidate despite legal uncertainly since he has already served two consecutive five-year terms, has vowed to oust Mutharika come the May 2009 elections. Panapress.

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