Malawi Arrests Six Former Officials Over Coup Conspiracy

Malawian police arrested at least six former government officials and ministers for allegedly conspiring to install the military after the death last year of President Bingu wa Mutharika.

Rhoda Manjolo, a police spokeswoman in Malawi’s administrative capital, Lilongwe, today confirmed reports by Capital FM Radio of the arrests. She declined to say what charges would be laid.

The arrests of the so-called Midnight Six follow the January publication of a 90-page report by a commission of inquiry into the April 5 death of Mutharika after he suffered a heart attack. A delay in appointing his successor, Vice President Joyce Banda, sparked the probe.

Blantyre-based Capital FM said three former Cabinet ministers, including former Information Minister Patricia Kaliati, were among six officials from Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party who were detained. The Malawi Times reported that Mutharika’s brother Peter handed himself in to police in Blantyre, the commercial capital, today after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

The commission of inquiry said the DPP officials considered blocking Banda’s appointment. The military refused to take power, Blantyre-based Zodiak Radio said today, citing the report.

The night of Mutharika’s death, the officials held a midnight press conference leading to a delay in Banda’s appointment. Banda was expelled from the DPP in 2011 after refusing to endorse Peter Mutharika as vice president candidate for elections scheduled for 2014. She subsequently formed the People’s Party, along with several defectors from the DPP.

To contact the reporters on this story: Brian Latham in Johannesburg at blatham@bloomberg.net; Frank Jomo in Blantyre at fjomo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net

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