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Wednesday, 17 October, 2001, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
Malawi politician faces treason charge
Brown Mpinganjira
Brown Mpinganjira: arrest will not help anybody
A leading Malawi opposition politician has been arrested at his home outside Blantyre, and police say he will be charged with treason.

His wife told the BBC correspondent in Malawi that eight police officers had arrived and searched their home, before taking her husband, Brown Mpinganjira, away to a maximum security prison in Zomba, 70km north of Blantyre.

They just want to lock him away. It will be an uphill battle to have him freed on bail

Peter Chupa, spokesman

His spokesman, Peter Chupa, told the French news agency AFP: "They found nothing - no guns, no document which could implicate him in treasonable offences."

Earlier this year, a witness at a treason trial named Mr Mpinganjira as being behind a failed coup attempt in March.

Oppose third term

At the time the opposition leader, who is a former government minister and former close ally of President Bakili Muluzi dismissed the claim.

He said: " Wherever I walk I know they will cook something against me. But arresting me will not help anybody in Malawi."

President Bakili Muluzi Muluzi
Brown's party opposes possible third term by President Muluzi

The party that Mr Mpinganjira leads, the National Democratic Alliance, has opposed the possibility of President Bakili Muluzi standing for an unconstitutional third term in office.

Mr Mpinganjira was dismissed from the cabinet last year and later charged with corruption. But the court acquitted him for lack of evidence.

Uphill battle

Mr Mpinganjira's spokesman said of the latest arrest: " They just want to keep him away. It will be an uphill battle to have him freed on bail."

Treason is a capital offence in Malawi and bail is not normally granted.

Our correspondent says if Mr Mpinganjira is locked away for a long time he might not be able to challenge the president in the presidential elections.

Malawi's police spokesman Oliver Soko
"No political attachment in this arrest"
See also:

06 Nov 00 | Africa
Heads roll in Malawi cabinet
29 Dec 00 | Africa
Malawi minister freed on bail
06 Sep 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Malawi
20 Feb 01 | Africa
Malawi tycoon leaves ruling party
12 Mar 01 | Africa
Malawi minister wins court case
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