Malawi president sacks army chief

2014-06-25 10:57
Malawi's new president, Democratic Progressive Party leader Peter Mutharika. (Amos Gumulira, AFP)

Malawi's new president, Democratic Progressive Party leader Peter Mutharika. (Amos Gumulira, AFP)

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Blantyre - Malawi President Peter Mutharika has fired the country's army chief, General Henry Odillo, his office said on Wednesday.

Odillo had in 2012 reportedly refused to take over government after the sudden death of then-president Bingu wa Mutharika, the current president's brother.

The coup plan was allegedly hatched by Peter Mutharika to prevent the then-vice president, Joyce Banda, from automatically becoming president as provided for in the constitution.

Banda did become president, however, and Mutharika was charged with treason. That charge is now expected to fall away as Mutharika ousted Banda in elections last month and a sitting president is immune from prosecution.

Political problem

Odillo had told a commission of inquiry into the coup plot that he had refused to take over the government, saying the question of "succession was a political problem and needed a political solution".

The statement from the president's office said Odillo had been replaced as head of the Malawi Defence Force by Major-General Ignancio Maulana, who was chief of military operations.

Odillo's deputy, Major-General John Msonthi, has also been sacked and will be replaced by Brigadier Griffin Supuni.

Mutharika has also demoted the chief secretary to government, Hawa Ndilowe, and deployed her as high commissioner to neighbouring Tanzania.

Ndilowe was appointed by Banda in 2012 after she sacked veteran chief secretary Bright Msaka who was accused of being involved in the bid to block Banda's ascendancy to power.

Ndilowe's deputy, Willie Samute, is now acting as chief secretary to government, the top civil servant post, the statement added.

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