– Immunity from prosecution –
Mutharika takes the reins of the country under the shadow of a treason charge.
The 74-year-old is accused of attempting to conceal his brother’s death in office two years ago in an attempt to prevent Banda – then vice-president – from assuming power.
Banda prevailed and took office as decreed by the constitution, booting the former foreign minister out of the administration.
Mutharika, a law professor and former cabinet minister, faces additional counts of inciting a mutiny and conspiracy to commit a felony, along with other officials.
The trial is still pending, but analysts say it is likely the case will be set aside as Malawi’s presidents enjoy immunity from prosecution as long as they are in office.
There is speculation that once Mutharika is in power he could turn the tables on Banda and have her charged with corruption over a $30 million graft scandal dubbed “Cashgate”.
Banda has claimed credit for uncovering the fraud, which saw aid money siphoned into top government officials’ pockets. But critics, including Mutharika, say the funds went into her party’s election war-chest.