Malawi President in a Coma, to be flown to SA

Mutharika is reported to be in a coma

Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika is in a coma at Kamuzu central hospital and about 15 soldiers have been deployed at the resident of Malawi’s vice president Joyce Banda in what many believe is in readiness to any possible take over the President’s health deteriorates following a cardiac arrest he suffered in early Thursday.

“More Soldiers have been deployed at the Vice President’s residence as a matter of procedure in such situations,” said a senior army officer.

Reports say that the President will be airlifted to South Africa in the evening and is expected to arrive at Lanserie airport in Johannesburg at 10 pm. He will then be taken to Milpark hospital,” said a senior minister  

Meanwhile cabinet ministers are trooping to the hospital this evening amid a heavy presence of police.

Eyewitnesses said  Mutharika arrived at the hospital in comatose at around 11:30 am in an ambulance, a dark green Toyota Land Cruiser, which was later given plates MG948AB. Two other vehicles that escorted Mutharika were a Toyota Prado BN1462 and a Toyota Fortuner BR4473.

The President’s condition is a potential constitutional crisis that looms over the country in the event of  his  incapacitation or, God forbid, death.

On paper, the Republican Constitution is clear that in both cases, the country’s Vice President takes over.

The current situation is more complicated than that, at least from a political—rather than a legal point of view.

The current Veep, Joyce Banda—elected on joint ticket with Mutharika in May 2009—is no longer a member of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) following her sacking after which she formed her own People’s Party (PP) and became a fierce and unabashed Mutharika critic.

But last evening, the Army had reportedly deployed at least 15 military personnel to the Veep’s Area 12 Residence in the Capital, in a move that may be interpreted as beefing up the security of a likely leader of the country, at least temporarily.

Other officials who also went earlier to see the President included the President’s brother Professor Peter Mutharika, Chief Secretary Bright Msaka, Energy Minister Goodall Gondwe, Inspector General of Police Peter Mukhito, Director General of National Intelligence Services Bintony Kutsaira, Director General of State Residences Edward Sawerengera and Presidential Advisor on Religious Affairs Billy Gama. They left much earlier.