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Malawi vice president arrested on treason charges

Written by: Staff
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BLANTYRE, Apr 29 (Reuters) Malawi's vice president, Cassim Chilumpha, has been arrested on treason charges, police said today deepening a political crisis gripping the impoverished southern African country.

Police spokesman Willie Mwaluka said Chilumpha, who has been in a tense political stand-off with President Bingu wa Mutharika, was arrested at his home in Blantyre late yesterday and immediately transferred to custody in the capital Lilongwe.

''We arrested him on allegations of planning to overthrow government. More details will be given in due course,'' Mwaluka told Reuters.

Wa Mutharika attempted to fire Chilumpha earlier this year but was blocked by Malawi's high court.

Chilumpha, seen as a potential presidential candidate in 2009, is vice chairman of the United Democratic Front (UDF), the party which sponsored wa Mutharika's presidential campaign in 2004 but from which he later resigned amid tensions over his anti-corruption policies.

REUTERS SHB VC1146

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