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Independent AfricaWhereabouts of Malawi vice-president unknown following missing aircraft

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Whereabouts of Malawi vice-president unknown following missing aircraft

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A statement from the president’s office has revealed that an aircraft carrying Malawi’s Vice-President Saulos Chilima and nine other individuals has disappeared.

The Malawi Defence Force aircraft lost contact after departing from the capital, Lilongwe, on Monday morning.

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It was scheduled to arrive at Mzuzu International Airport in the country’s north around 10:00 local time (09:00 BST).

In a speech late on Monday, President Lazarus Chakwera said a search and rescue operation was continuing.

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“Soldiers are still on the ground carrying out the search and I have given strict orders that the operation should continue until the plane is found,” he said, adding that it was a “heart-breaking situation”.

“I know that we are all frightened and concerned; I too am concerned. But I want to assure you that I am sparing no available resource to find that plane and I am holding onto every fibre of hope that we will find survivors.”

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Earlier, Mr. Chakwera cancelled his scheduled flight to the Bahamas, which was set for Monday evening. General Valentino Phiri informed Mr. Chakwera that the reason for the aircraft’s disappearance is still unknown.

Moses Kunkuyu, Malawi’s information minister, informed the BBC that efforts to locate the aircraft are underway and described them as “intensive.”

Mr. Chilima was en route to represent the government at the funeral of former cabinet minister Ralph Kasambara, who passed away three days ago.

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 faced arrest and charges in 2022 over allegations of accepting bribes in exchange for government contracts. However, the court recently dismissed these charges without providing any explanation.

Saulos Chilima is a prominent figure in both the political and corporate spheres.

Before entering politics, he held significant leadership positions at multinational corporations such as Unilever and Coca-Cola.

At 51 years old, he is married and has two children.

Described as a “performer,” “workaholic,” and “achiever” on the government’s website, Dr. Chilima is highly regarded for his dedication and accomplishments. He holds a PhD in Knowledge Management.

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