[JURIST] Malawi Vice President Cassim Chilumpha [official profile] pleaded not guilty to treason and conspiring to murder the president as his trial on the charges began Monday. In May 2006, Chilumpha was placed under house arrest [JURIST report] three weeks after police arrested [JURIST report] him in connection with an alleged plot to assassinate Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika [official profile; BBC profile]. Chilumpha says he angered the government by refusing to join the Democratic Progressive Party [Wikipedia backgrounder], established by Mutharika in the wake of his renunciation of the United Democratic Front Party [Wikipedia backgrounder].
Mutharika sent a letter [text] to Chilumpha in February 2006 asking for his resignation, but a court intervened [BBC report], saying the president has no constitutional authority to fire the vice president. Mutharika faces impeachment charges [JURIST report] for allegedly misusing funds and violating the constitution. AP has more.