June 20, 2009 / 4:08 PM / 10 years ago

Malawi authorities seize ex-president's passport

LILONGWE (Reuters) - Malawi authorities have seized the passport of former President Bakili Muluzi, who faces corruption charges, and barred him from leaving the country, a senior official said Saturday.

Muluzi was scheduled to leave for the United Kingdom for a medical check-up next Wednesday, but Saturday was informed he must not go abroad, his lawyer Jay Banda told Reuters.

“We have seized his passport because there are some things we have to look into before he leaves for the UK,” Anti-Corruption Bureau director Alex Nampota told Reuters.

Banda said the bureau had received anonymous calls last night that Muluzi did not plan to come back after traveling to Britain. He said the claims were politically motivated and unfounded.

Muluzi has been under investigation for the last two years on suspicion of siphoning money from Taiwan, Morocco, Libya and other donors. He was arrested in February and charged with 87 counts of diverting money into his private account. He denies any wrongdoing.

Muluzi, who ruled the southern African nation for 10 years, stepped down in 2004 after unsuccessfully trying to change the constitution to allow him to stand again.

He was barred from contesting in this years’ May presidential elections, but backed his former rival John Tembo of the Malawi Congress Party. The alliance lost the election to Bingu Wa Mutharika.

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