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Aircraft carrying Malawi vice-president goes missing

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Saulos Chilima has been vice-president for 10 years

An aircraft carrying Malawi’s Vice-President Saulos Chilima and nine others has gone missing, a statement from the president’s office has said.

The Malawi Defense Force aircraft “went off the radar” after it left the capital, Lilongwe, on Monday morning, it added.

The president ordered a search and rescue operation after aviation officials were unable to contact the aircraft.

It was supposed to land at Mzuzu International Airport, in the country’s north, just after 10:00 local time (09:00 BST).

After being told of the incident by the Defence Force’s commander, Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera cancelled his flight to the Bahamas, which was scheduled for Monday evening.

“The public will be updated of any developments on the situation as facts are established,” the president’s office said.

The reason for the aircraft’s disappearance is not yet known, General Valentino Phiri told Chakwera.

Moses Kunkuyu, Malawi’s information minister, told the BBC efforts to find the aircraft are “intensive”.

Chilima was on his way to represent the government at the burial of former cabinet minister Ralph Kasambara, who died three days ago.

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.”

In 2022, Dr Chilima was arrested and charged on allegations that he accepted money in exchange for awarding government contracts .

Last month, the court dropped the charges, giving no reasons for this decision.

Who was Saulos Chilima?

Prior to his political career, Dr Chilima held key leadership roles in multinational companies like Unilever and Coca Cola

He is 51 years old, married with two children.

Dr Chilima is described on the government’s website as a “performer”, “workaholic” and “an achiever”.

He holds a PhD degree in Knowledge Management.

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