Minister of Justice and Attorney General Ralph Kasambara says the probe into Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo and other judges’ alleged involvement in a coup plot awaits President Joyce Banda’s approval.

Waiting President Banda's approval to start probe on coup plot

The Malawi Law Society (MLS) on Thursday wrote the President, saying Kasambara should initiate, by request, investigations by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) into Munlo and other judges’ alleged involvement in the scheme to subvert the constitutional order on the filling of the vacancy created after the death of former president Bingu wa Mutharika.

MLS also asked the President and the Attorney General (AG) to ask the Chief Justice to step down as JSC chairperson to pave the way for the investigations.

But Kasambara on Sunday said that MLS letter was referred to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) as a petition for Banda to act upon.

Said the AG: “Since the President has travelled [to Mozambique], we shall await her response upon return.”

The President is expected back home this Monday afternoon from a three-day State visit to Mozambique.

Meanwhile, a senior lawyer, who is claiming the support of about 10 other colleagues, has accused the MLS of going overboard in handling of the Munlo issue.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the lawyer argued MLS did not conduct a fact-finding mission to establish what exactly happened during the transition period or let alone hear any testimony from any member of Cabinet implicated in the allegations of attempting to subvert the Constitution so that then vice-president Joyce Banda, should not ascend to the presidency as provided by constitutional order.

Said the lawyer: “It is premature to call for the resignation of the Chief Justice. No commission of enquiry has come up with any results. We wonder on what basis [the MLS is acting]. It is very wrong to take sides.

“The Chief Justice holds a constitutional office. There is a need to establish facts first, because every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The sentiments being raised are not consensus of the law society; some of us…are very worried. MLS is acting on hearsay.”

But MLS president John-Gift Mwakhwawa on Sunday said the society stands by the unanimous resolution it made on Thursday and that anyone opposing it should have contacted any member of the executive before taking his concerns elsewhere.

Said Mwakhwawa: “I am skeptical about the legitimacy of this particular member and whether he indeed attended the meeting last week. Why were their issues not raised at the meeting? The decision was unanimous and nobody opposed.

“I am inviting them to my table to bring their concerns to us. I will not fight with any member of the MLS.”

In an interview with The Guardian newspaper of the UK, Banda recently alleged that the Chief Justice was among the judges who were waiting at then Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation minister Professor Peter Mutharika’s residence in Lilongwe, ready to swear him in as president when his brother Bingu wa Mutharika died of cardiac arrest in Lilongwe on April 5 2012.

Nobody has since mentioned names of the other judges allegedly involved in the said coup plot.

Meanwhile, DPP first vice-president Goodall Gondwe has gone on record in print and electronic media arguing Munlo was not present at the said meeting. Munlo, on his part, has chosen to remain silent on the matter until an opportune time and forum.

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