arrests in Malawi coup plot
Arrests follow Malawi 'coup plot'
Heavily armed police in Malawi have arrested four people, including a former army general and an ex-inspector general of police. Police say the arrests follow allegations of clandestine moves to overthrow President Bingu wa Mutharika.
Over the weekend, Mr Mutharika accused his predecessor Bakili Muluzi, who is out of the country, of being behind a plot to remove him by Friday 16 May.
Mr Muluzi's United Democratic Front (UDF) has denied the allegations.
The BBC's Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre says the homes of former army command Gen Joseph Chimayo, former Inspector General of Police Joseph Aironi, UDF Secretary General Kennedy Makwangwala and former Blantyre Mayor John Chikakwiya were raided on Tuesday morning.
They were briefly held at the police headquarters in Blantyre before being transferred to the capital, Lilongwe, for interrogation, he says.
President Mutharika had been involved in talks with the opposition to try and resolve a political impasse that has seen the opposition either boycotting parliament or shooting down government bills.
But at a church meeting on Sunday the president accused Mr Muluzi of being "a coward" for leaving the country while a coup was being planned.
"Malawians, let me tell you this was their plan: That Bakili Muluzi would come back home [from London] on 16th and that would not be as leader of his party, but that he would come back home as president of Malawi after removing me from power," Mr Mutharika said.
Last month, Mr Muluzi, who served two terms before stepping down in 2004, won a contest to be named the UDF's presidential candidate in next year's polls.
It is not clear if he would be eligible to stand as the constitution bans a president from more than two consecutive terms.
President Mutharika was elected as the UDF candidate in 2004 but soon afterwards fell out with Mr Muluzi and formed his own party.
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