Aircraft carrying Malawi's vice president Saulos Chilima goes missing

10 June 2024, 20:33

The Malawi Defence Force aircraft "went off the radar" on Monday morning
The Malawi Defence Force aircraft "went off the radar" on Monday morning. Picture: Getty

By Will Conroy

An aircraft carrying Malawi's Vice-President Saulos Chilima and nine others has gone missing.

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According to the president's office, the Malawi Defence Force aircraft "went off the radar" on Monday morning after leaving the capital, Lilongwe.

The plane was supposed to land at Mzuzu International Airport, in the country’s north, just after 10:00 local time (09:00 BST).

The Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera ordered a search and rescue operation after there were failed efforts to contact the aircraft.

The president cancelled his flight to the Bahamas scheduled for Monday evening after being told of the incident by the Defence Force's commander.

President Lazarus Chakwera ordered a search and rescue operation
President Lazarus Chakwera ordered a search and rescue operation. Picture: Getty

Mr Chakwera’s office said: “The public will be updated of any developments on the situation as facts are established.”

General Valentino Phiri told the president the reason for the aircraft's disappearance is unknown while Moses Kunkuyu, Malawi's information minister, has said efforts to find the aircraft are "intensive".

Local media reports that Mr Chilima was travelling to represent the government at the funeral of former cabinet member Ralph Kasambara.

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Mr Kunkuyu said: "The airport he was to land, which is in the northern part of Mzuzu, was the closest to where the funeral was taking place.”

Dr Chilima was arrested and charged after Malawi’s corruption watchdog alleged that he accepted money in exchange for awarding government contracts in 2022 but the court dropped the charges last month, with no reason given.

His lawyer Khumbo Soko said in May: “We do not know the reasons for the discontinuance. Suffice to say only parliament has the mandate to know".

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