- Reports in the Malawi and international press about President Bingu wa Mutharika's fear of ghosts have upset the presidency. After denying the allegations, President Mutharika ordered the arrest of the two journalists first reporting he feared the presidential palace was haunted.
Reporter Raphael Tenthani of the BBC and Mabvuto Banda of Malawi's independent daily 'The Nation' earlier last week first filed reports of the scandal: The real reasons for President Mutharika to move out of the presidential palace was because of fears it was haunted. The allegation was thus widely carried by Malawian and international media over the weekend.
Local newspapers in the US and Australia filed stories titled "Malawi's President flees haunted mansion." According to a Canadian broadcaster, President Mutharika even "says ghosts forced him out of official residence."
The Malawian President however is not fond of seeing his name in such a context. Earlier this week, the Roman Catholic told the press that his political enemies had planted these allegations in the press. He had no intentions to move out of the exclusive New State House in Lilongwe, he insisted.
Also Reverend Malani Mtonga - a senior adviser on Christian affairs to the President, whom the journalists quoted as their source - denied the reports after they appeared. Reverend Mtonga had earlier been quoted by the international press as saying that President Mutharika had asked the clergy to pray to "exorcise evil spirits."
In stead of hunting ghosts, the Malawian government decided to get to the root of the problem: the press. Journalists Tenthani and Banda were thus arrested today by police at their homes in the commercial capital of Blantyre, in southern Malawi. They are currently being detained at police headquarters in the capital, Lilongwe.
Sources within the Malawian press hold that the two journalists surely had been arrested over their ghost writing. It was however still unclear whether the journalists had been charged, according to Joseph Makuwira, a spokesman for 'The Nation'.
The arrests of Mr Tenthani and Mr Banda have caused protests in Malawi and abroad. Several journalists staged a protest march in Lilongwe today, demanding the release of their two colleagues. Also the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) today protested the arrest in a statement.
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