The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire

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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Update on Malawi leader haunted by palace ghosts

The haunting of the Malawi leader at his palace (see downthread) took a strange turn when the journalists were jailed for their reporting of it. They have since been released.

Blantyre - Malawi police freed two journalists without charge on Wednesday, a day after they and a government official were held over reports that President Bingu wa Mutharika had left his palace due to fears it was haunted.

Mabvuto Banda of the influential daily Nation newspaper, who also works for Reuters, and Raphael Tenthani of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) were both released on police bail. It was not clear whether they would be charged.

Both were taken in separately on Tuesday in dawn raids at their homes in the commercial capital Blantyre.

Horace Nyaka, an aide to Vice President Cassim Chilumpha, was also arrested in connection with the reports, which police described as falsehoods.

Malawi newspapers and radio stations carried the story on the ghosts on Sunday, quoting a senior presidency official, and newspapers on Monday urged Mutharika to focus on priorities such as fighting poverty in the southern African state.

Mutharika, a former economist with the World Bank, reacted angrily to the stories, telling reporters at the weekend he had not met any ghosts in the palace and was in any case not afraid of them.

The jailing of journalists for doing their jobs is truly scary. Mutharika and other African leaders should be using their nations' wealth to help the people not themselves. Let us hope the ghosts lead Mutharika to change his ways like in a certain Charles Dickens' novel.


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