Author`s name Pravda.Ru

Police arrest critic of president in Malawi impeachment crisis

Police on Wednesday arrested a lawmaker and prominent critic of President Bingu wa Mutharika for alleged document forgery in a new twist to an escalating political crisis in this impoverished southern African nation.

Lucius Banda, who tabled an impeachment motion against the president, was accused of issuing "false documents" by forging his school leaving certificate which is a necessary qualification for all lawmakers, according to police sources who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

If the allegations are proven, Banda would be kicked out of parliament and parliamentary motions initiated by him _ including the impeachment motion _ would be rendered null and void.

The United Democratic Front and its allies are seeking to impeach wa Mutharika on grounds of abuse of power and misuse of public funds. Wa Mutharika quit the party and set up his own party earlier this year, accusing powerful politicians of trying to block his anti-corruption crusade. He maintains the impeachment attempts are motivated by revenge.

Wa Mutharika was summoned to appear before Parliament last week to answer the charges. But this was halted at the eleventh hour by the Constitutional Court pending a judicial review of the regulations adopted by Parliament to try wa Mutharika.

Earlier this week, anti-corruption agents swooped on the homes of former president Bakili Muluzi in search of documents to back up allegations that the wealthy businessman diverted 1.4 billion kwacha (US$12 million; Ђ10 million) in donor funds were diverted to his personal account.

Malawi's southern African neighbors and foreign donors have warned the political crisis is paralyzing government and hampering efforts to deal with a looming malnutrition crisis which threatens 5 million out of Malawi's 11 million people, AP reported. V.A.