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Military plane carrying vice president of Malawi and 9 other people disappears

Military plane carrying vice president of Malawi and 9 other people disappears

A military plane carrying Malawi’s vice president and nine other people disappeared Monday during a short trip from the capital to a mountainous region in the country’s north and a search is underway, the presidential office said.

The plane carrying Vice President Saulos Chilima, 51, left the capital, Lilongwe, at 9:17 a.m. but disappeared from radar and did not arrive at Mzuzu international airport, about 370 kilometers (230 miles) to the north. about 45 minutes later, for the scheduled landing.

All efforts to establish contact with the plane since it left radar have so far failed.”said the statement from the office of the president of Malawi, Lazarus Chakwera, who ordered a search operation and canceled a trip to the Bahamas. The other people on board were not identified.

Mzuzu is the third largest city in Malawi and the capital of the northern region. It is located in a mountainous and forested area dominated by the Viphya mountain range, which has vast pine plantations.

The Times of Malawi media group reported that search teams, including soldiers and police, are combing one such forested area near Mzuzu for signs of the plane.

Chakwera ordered national and local authorities to “conduct an immediate search and rescue operation to locate the whereabouts of the aircraft”according to his office. Chakwera later announced on his official Facebook page that he will deliver a live address to the nation at 11:00 pm.

Chilima was facing corruption charges over allegations that he received money in exchange for influencing the awarding of government contracts, but prosecutors surprisingly dropped the charges last month. This led to criticism that the Chakwera government was not taking a strong enough stance against corruption.

Chilima was arrested in late 2022 and appeared in court several times, but the trial had not started. He denied the accusations.

Chilima was a candidate in the 2019 Malawi presidential election and came third. That race was won by then-president Peter Mutharika, but was annulled by Malawi’s Constitutional Court due to irregularities. Chakwera would later come in second place.

Chilima later joined Chakwera’s campaign as his running mate in a historic rerun of the elections in 2020, when Chakwera was elected president. It was the first time in Africa that an election result overturned by a court resulted in the defeat of the sitting president.

Source: Gestion

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