Cape Town — A brother of the late Malawi president Bingu wa Mutharika was arrested with 11 government officials and former cabinet ministers on Monday on treason charges, according to Malawi's Nyasa Times.
The president of the Democratic Progressive Party, Peter Mutharika, reportedly planned to prevent Joyce Banda, then the vice president, from assuming the presidency after President Bingu wa Mutharika died of a heart attack last April, reports AFP.
According to AFP, those arrested also included the former ministers of information and health Patricia Kaliati and Jean Kalirani, as well as the former commander of the presidential guard Duncan Mwapasa. Others also arrested were the Minister of Economy and Planning Goodall Gondwe, and Nicholas Dausi, Democratic Progressive Party spokesperson. The Chief Secretary to the Government, Bright Msaka, was fired after his arrest.
According to Nyasa Times, Kalirani and Gondwe were not present in court as they had been admitted to hospital.
Meanwhile, crowds protesting against the arrests had to be dispersed outside the Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate's Court.
The alleged coup plotters will only be able to apply for bail once the case has been transferred to the High Court.
Last year the government proceeded with an investigation into the former president's death despite his family's opposition.
Treason carries the death penalty in Malawi.