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Malawi adjourns treason trial of ex-officials

Trial of late president's brother and other ex- officials accused of preventing leadership succession resumes April 16.

Last Modified: 10 Apr 2013 12:24
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Joyce Banda's presidential succession was contested by Peter Mutharika who called for a military takeover [File: EPA]

A court in Malawi has adjourned a treason trial against the 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 had been in court on Wednesday 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.

Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa, speaking from Lilongwe, said the case was adjourned until next week Tuesday. 

Peter Mutharika and several other high ranking senior officials from the previous government were in court today. There supporters were outside cheering them on. They say that the court proceedings will resume, she said.

"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 witchhunt. 

"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 as a presidential candidate for their party."

Mutasa said that the government says that they are in no way trying to single out Peter Mutharika or the other people accused, and these charges are not politically motivated.

"Mutharika's supporters say they will be back to support the man they call the Barack Obama of Malawi," said Mutasa.

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Source:
Al Jazeera And Agencies
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