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Malawi: UTM party suspects foul play over VP’s plane clash, ban ministers from funeral

General News Malawi: UTM party suspects foul play over VP’s plane clash, ban ministers from funeral
FRI, 14 JUN 2024 LISTEN

The tragic death of Malawi's Vice President Saulos Chilima in a plane crash last weekend has sparked political tensions in the country.

Chilima, who was also the leader of the United Transformation Movement (UTM) party, perished along with eight others when a military aircraft went down in dense fog.

His death has left the fragile ruling coalition between UTM and President Lazarus Chakwera's Malawi Congress Party (MCP) hanging by a thread.

The UTM has raised serious concerns about the handling of the crash investigation.

“We demand to know what happened to our leader," said Stevie Mikaya, a senior UTM official, adding, “Was it a mechanical fault? Did it run out of fuel? We need the truth."

The party has moved to bar two cabinet ministers - Defence Minister Harry Mkandawire and Homeland Security Minister Ken Zikhale Ng'oma - from attending Chilima's funeral.

“It's disheartening that the plane crashed at 10:00am, yet no action was taken to rescue those involved," said Mikaya.

Meanwhile, MP Chrissie Kanyasho criticized the search efforts, saying when UTM members mobilized to search, "We found only one military vehicle with nine soldiers searching the entire area, which was inadequate."

In response, the Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC), a civil society group, called for "restraint and civility" in a statement dated June 14.

Board Chair Robert Mkwezalamba said his outfit “finds these calls as grave allegations, divisive, damaging, unacceptable and condemns them in strongest terms as they have the effect of causing chaos and violence in an already heartbroken society."

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Isaac Donkor Distinguished
Isaac Donkor Distinguished

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