Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Malawian cowboy pols arrested

Bizarre doings from Malawi. Three leading members of the ruling UDF party were arrested for carrying guns into a meeting with the country's current and former presidents.

Deputy transport minister Roy Cumsay, Harry Thomson and MP Alfred Mwechumu were stopped at the entrance to the presidential palace on their way to a tete-a-tete with President Bingu wa Mutharika and former president Bakili Muluzi. The purpose of the talks, ironically, was for Muluzi to mediate a growing rift between senior UDF figures over Mutharika's anti-corruption drive.

The politicians said they always carry guns for their personal security.

Mutharika's crusade against corruption and government waste has angered much of Malawian establishment, much like Levy Mwanawasa's drive in neighboring Zambia. Though Mutharika would've done better to lead by example, rather than moving into a palace near the capital Lilongwe. It contains 300 rooms, most of which are air-conditioned and its own school and supermarket. The palace is so huge that it previously housed the country's entire parliament before it was evicted by the champion of wasteful spending.

[Update: the three politicians have been reportedly charged with treason]

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