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Malawi ex-president Banda says ‘no fear’ of arrest after return

Domasi, Malawi | AFP | Malawi’s former president Joyce Banda said Sunday she was not afraid of being arrested despite an outstanding warrant over corruption allegations, a day after she returned home from four years in self-imposed exile.

“I am not afraid. If they want they can come and arrest me because I have not done any wrong,” Banda, only the second woman to lead an African country, told a crowd of supporters in her home village of Domasi, north of capital Blantyre.

“But if people are stealing from the people that I love dearly, then these people ought to be arrested,” she said.

Banda, 68, fled the country in 2014 when she lost power after being embroiled in the so-called Cashgate scandal, in which government officials siphoned off millions of dollars of public money.

Police spokesman James Kaledzera has declined to say if Banda would be arrested, though he confirmed that a warrant issued last July remained valid.

Earlier this year, the Malawi Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) said it had no solid evidence against the former president, partially clearing her name.

The “Cashgate” scandal prompted foreign donors — who provide around 40 percent of Malawi’s budget — to pull the plug on aid worth around $150 million.

Ministers, civil servants and businessmen are accused of pocketing money from government coffers through ghost companies which did not provide any services to the state.

Local media have reported a possible deal between President Peter Mutharika and Banda ahead of next year’s elections, in which Banda has hinted she may run.

“I will only talk about politics once I have consulted widely,” she said on Sunday.

“This country needs salvation. The country has been in the same state as it was when I left in 2014.”

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