BLANTYRE--Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika's first Attorney General Ralph Kasambara, who was arrested on Monday, was freed on bail Wednesday only to be re-arrested hours later.
Police searched his house but it’s unclear if they found what they were looking for.
Outside Chichiri Prison, there was high drama as scores of his supporters, colleagues and journalists congregated anticipating his release.
Kasambara was first arrested on Monday after apprehending "thugs" he claimed confessed were sent by government to petrol-bomb his offices in Blantyre. He was instead detained and accused of kidnapping the three alleged criminals and torturing them to extract confessions. Information Minister Patricia Kaliati dismissed as untrue Kasambara's claims.
Blantyre Principle Resident Magistrate Innocent Nebi Tuesday released him on bail despite the on-going court strike. In fact, the striking workers temporarily suspended the strike to facilitate the bail application because lawyers previously demonstrated in support of the strike.
Prison authorities, however, refused to release him saying they don’t operate after 3 o’clock in the afternoon. He was eventually released Wednesday morning to dramatic scenes in town as his supporters honked cars as his convoy made rounds in town.
But police later in the afternoon invaded his residence in the up-market Nyambadwe suburb to re-arrest him, saying bail procedure had been flouted. Again, well-wishers and journalists gathered outside Chichiri Prison but police used baton sticks and threatened to use teargas to disperse them as they intended to hold a vigil outside the prison.
Kasambara's arrest comes days after he published interviews in newspapers calling for Pres Mutharika’s resignation or removal from office.
"Malawians must understand that the person they employed as the President of their country and gave him the terms and conditions of service as the Constitution has defiled the conditions of service," opined Kasambara in The Weekend Nation. "Malawians have options: they should ask the President to resign or they should impeach him. He wants to be a dictator."
He added: "People must stop recognising him as President and his administration. These can be done by refusing to pay tax; shunning all government functions as it will be an illegal government...and where possible they (Malawians) must engage in simultaneous public demonstrations to express their anger and frustrations."
A prison official privy to the issue said Mutharika was angry with Kasambara's insinuations that he was a failed leader.
Earlier in the day, over 20 police officers mounted a thorough search at his offices and residence looking for incriminating evidence. A police officer told MaraPost the officers were looking for chopsticks which the suspects claimed had been inserted into their cavities to force them to reveal who had sent them.
Pres Mutharika's abrasive style of governance has made him unpopular here. Last July thousands of Malawians demonstrated against his administration, accusing it of mismanaging the economy and trampling on rights. Nineteen people were shot dead by police during the two days of demonstrations.
Western multi-lateral donor agencies and governments have also joined the fray by suspending all development aid to the impoverished southern African country. A British diplomat, Fergus Cochraine-Dyet, was expelled from Malawi after a leaked memo to British Foreign Secretary William Hague described the 77-year-old economist-turned politician as "increasingly becoming autocratic and intolerant of criticism".
---©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment