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Malawi VP arrested on treason charges for assassination plot against president

[JURIST] Malawi [government website] Vice President Cassim Chilumpha has been arrested on treason charges for allegedly plotting to assassinate Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika [BBC profile], Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Henry Phoya said Saturday. Chilumpha was arrested late Friday evening and Phoya said he allegedly asked a prominent businessman to hire an assassin to kill the president so that he could take over the office in exchange for government contracts. Phoya told reporters that some of these conversations were taped and that the assassination attempt would have been carried out in March except that the assassin backed out of the deal. AP has more. Malawi's Nation Online has local coverage.

Chilumpha's lawyer told AP that Chilumpha's arrest was "the continuation of political vindictiveness," on the president's part. In February, President Mutharika attempted to dismiss Chilumpha from his post accusing him of abusing the oath of office. The president was prevented from sacking Chilumpha [BBC report] after a judge ruled that a full judicial review of the charges against the vice president was required. This prompted the president to leave the ruling United Democratic Front [Wikipedia backgrounder] and form the Democratic Progressive Party [Wikipedia backgrounder]. Mutharika is also facing impeachment charges [JURIST report] for allegedly misusing funds and violating the constitution. BBC News has more.

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