Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Nation Tuesday against the background of an interview she gave last week to The Guardian newspaper of the UK on the coup plot, the President said a Cabinet ministerâ€”who played a role at the judicial and Cabinet ministersâ€™ meeting to machinate the swearing in of Peter Mutharika after the death of his brotherâ€”came to officially brief her at her residence in Lilongwe. The Nation could not reach the minister yesterday.
Said the President: â€œHe [the minister] was telling me in an official capacity at the presidential residence. So, I told the [UK]Â newspaper as it was relayed to me.â€
The Nation ran a story on April 13 2012 which detailed how the DPP establishment panicked after the death of Bingu wa Mutharika on April 5. The group held a meeting on Friday night (April 6) to make arrangements for Peter Mutharikaâ€™s ascendancy to power, contrary to constitutional provisions which allow for the Vice-President to take over in case of the incumbentâ€™s incapacitation or death.
The move caused division at the meeting, which reportedly wanted to drag in three judges to sit as a Constitutional Court, re-examine and interpret Section 85 of the Constitution to determine whether someone from another party other than DPP could become the President in the event of the incapacitation or death of the incumbent.
President Banda, who was sworn in the following day (April 7) after DPPâ€™s change of plan, confirmed the proposed constitutional move, saying she has documentary evidence on the same.
The President also confirmed that when all this was happening, she telephoned Army Commander General Henry Odillo, asking if she could rely on his support. She said Odillo obliged and stationed troops around her house.
Banda told The Guardian:Â â€œBy that time, the Chief Justice [Lovemore Munlo] and some judges were sitting at Peter Mutharika’s house waiting for the court order in order to swear him in.
â€œAll Cabinet ministers were there, too… But somebody called one minister to say, â€˜We don’t know whether you know what’s going on, but Joyce Banda is here and now it’s looking real, so whatever you are doing elsewhere will be looked upon as treason.â€™ At that point, 15 ministers abandoned that place and came running to my house.â€
Munlo could not be reached for comment on Monday evening and yesterday on the Judiciaryâ€™s role in the matter as his mobile numbers were not available.
High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal spokesperson, deputy registrar Mike Tembo, on Monday evening said he could not comment on the accusations levelled against some judges and the Chief Justice.
Meanwhile, Malawi Law Society (MLS) secretary Bright Theu told The Nation the issue has raised eyebrows within the legal fraternity and it has been scheduled as a subject for discussion at an MLS executive meeting.
But sources from within the legal fraternity disclosed that some lawyers on MLS professional forum are calling for Munloâ€™s voluntary resignation, in view of the revelations.
SOME KEY ISSUES
Army Commander pledged allegiance to the then VP and the Constitution, sent soldiers to protect her.
Malawi Law Society to discuss the Judiciaryâ€™s role in the alleged coup plot.