Plane Carrying Malawi Vice President and 9 Others Goes Missing

More than 15 hours have passed since planne should have landed at Mzuzu International Airport,

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Malawi's Vice President Saulos Chilima and nine others are missing after their plane failed to land as scheduled on Monday. The aircraft, operated by the Malawi Defence Force, took off from Lilongwe at 9:17 a.m. local time. It was expected to land at Mzuzu International Airport, about 380 km north of Lilongwe, but it never arrived.

Authorities launched a search and rescue operation after losing contact with the plane. Efforts by aviation experts to locate the aircraft have so far been unsuccessful. More than 15 hours have passed since plane should have landed, but no breakthrough has received till now.

Malawi Vice President
Plane carrying Malawi's Vice President Saulos Chilima and 9 others has gone missing X

A statement from the presidential office confirmed the incident. President Lazarus Chakwera has been informed and has canceled his trip to the Bahamas to oversee the search operation. No further information is available at this time.

Vice President Chilima, 51, was accompanied by nine unnamed individuals. The exact nature of their mission has not been disclosed.

This incident follows recent legal developments involving Vice President Chilima. Last month, corruption charges against him were dropped after the state prosecutor requested the case be dismissed. Chilima had been arrested in November 2022 over allegations that he accepted bribes in exchange for awarding government contracts.

Chilima has denied all charges, which were linked to contracts awarded to Xaviar Ltd and Malachitte FZE, companies associated with British businessman Zuneth Sattar. Sattar also denied any wrongdoing. Critics of President Chakwera have pointed to Chilima's case as evidence of the administration's struggles to combat corruption, a central promise of Chakwera's 2020 campaign.

Chilima previously ran for president in 2019, finishing third in a contested election that was later annulled by Malawi's Constitutional Court due to irregularities. In the subsequent 2020 election rerun, Chilima joined Chakwera's campaign as his running mate, leading to Chakwera's victory. This marked the first time in Africa that a court-overturned election resulted in the defeat of an incumbent president.

The disappearance of the vice president's plane has shocked the nation, and all efforts are now focused on finding the missing aircraft. The search and rescue operation continues, with updates expected as new information becomes available.

This article was first published on June 11, 2024