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Last Updated: Friday, 3 December, 2004, 20:51 GMT
Malawi mayor charged with fraud
By Raphael Tenthani
BBC News in Blantyre, Malawi

The mayor of Malawi's commercial capital, Blantyre, has been released on bail after he was arrested on charges of corruption.

John Chikakwiya of the ruling United Democratic Front party stands accused of pocketing more than $3,000 given by a state firm to maintain city roads.

Before appearing in court on Friday, the mayor collapsed in jail, his lawyer told BBC News.

Mr Chikakwiya denies the charge, saying contractors will account for the money.

'Mayor stressed'

His lawyer, Tamando Choktho, said that after being taken to jail, his client's blood pressure had risen to dangerous levels.

"His condition got so serious that he had to be admitted to hospital," he said.

"He has hypertension problems so the stress following his arrest might have complicated the condition."

The High Court demanded Mr Chikakwiya pay bail of about $500 and relinquish all his travel documents.

He will have to report to the police twice a week.

The arrest is viewed as a part the government's anti-corruption campaign.

But some of the members of President Bingu wa Mutharika's own party have accused him of using the campaign as a way to settle political scores.

The head of public prosecutions has said at least 10 senior members of the administration of former President Bakili Muluzi are under investigation in connection with the disappearance of government funds.

Street clash in Blantyre
30 Mar 01 |  Africa
Country profile: Malawi
09 Nov 04 |  Country profiles


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