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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 May, 2005, 16:42 GMT 17:42 UK
Malawi minister held over wedding
By Raphael Tenthani
BBC News, Blantyre, Malawi

Yusuf Mwawa (photo: Unesco)
Yusuf Mwawa married the vice-president's press officer
Malawi's Education Minister Yusuf Mwawa has been arrested for allegedly using public funds for his wedding ceremony.

Mr Mwawa has been charged with abuse of public office, theft by public servant, forgery and uttering a false document.

He is the first serving minister to be arrested since the current government took office a year ago. He has now been sacked by President Bingu wa Mutharika.

An anti-corruption drive has seen many senior officials, including some former ministers, arrested.

"Hon Mwawa was arrested this morning in Lilongwe following the conclusion of our investigations into his alleged fraud and corruption," Egrita Mdala, the Anti-Corruption Bureau public relations officer, told the BBC.

Mwawa, who has denied the charges, allegedly used a cheque meant to be spent on a cancelled official meeting to pay for the $1,700 (925) wedding reception at a hotel in Blantyre, Malawi's commercial capital.

His wife, journalist Diana Nkhulembe, is a press officer for Vice-President Cassim Chilumpha.

Mr Mutharika was chosen as the United Democratic Front candidate in the 2004 presidential elections by former President Bakili Muluzi.

But Mr Muluzi has since apologised to the country for what he said had been "a wrong choice".


SEE ALSO:
Malawi president 'a bad choice'
05 Apr 05 |  Africa
Malawi mayor charged with fraud
03 Dec 04 |  Africa
Profile: Bingu wa Mutharika
23 May 04 |  Africa


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