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Malawi intel agents suspected in plot
by Raphael Tenthani

The Associated Press    Translate This Article
8 January 2005

LILONGWE, Malawi (AP) - President Bingu wa Mutharika dissolved the country's intelligence network Friday, following claims that some agents were involved in an alleged plot to assassinate him.

In a brief statement, presidential secretary Charles Matabwa said the National Intelligence Bureau was being shut down and overhauled.

He declined to give the reason. But a senior government official and intelligence officers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was evidence that some members were involved in the alleged conspiracy.

Four senior ruling party officials were arrested this week and charged with treason after allegedly trying to bring handguns and knives into a meeting with President Bingu wa Mutharika.

The gathering was aimed at resolving the deepening rift between the president and his United Democratic Front party.

Wa Mutharika accused the party officials Thursday of conspiring with his predecessor and former supporter, Bakili Muluzi, to assassinate him - claims the officials and former president strongly denied.

Wa Mutharika said he forgave them and dropped all charges against them.

Muluzi formed the National Intelligence Bureau to replace the feared Secret Intelligence Service, but it was soon accused of imitating its predecessor's tactics.

Wa Mutharika, Muluzi's hand-picked successor, came to power in a turbulent May 2004 election marred by opposition allegations of vote-rigging that sparked violent clashes in and around the capital.

He has since angered his own party members by embarking on an anti-corruption drive and arresting senior members of Muluzi's administration.

The southern Africa nation, bordered by Tanzania, Zambia, and Mozambique, is a former British protectorate that gained independence in 1964. It is among the world's least developed nations, facing stubborn poverty, environmental problems and a high incidence of AIDS.

Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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