Haunted Mansion

The president of Malawi is the brother (or some close relative) of one of my law school professors, Peter Mutharika. Just through that tenuous connection, I am embarrassed by this.

Yahoo! News - Malawi's President Flees Haunted Mansion: "By RAPHAEL TENTHANI, Associated Press Writer

LILONGWE, Malawi - Malawi's president has temporarily moved out of his 300-bedroom state mansion, claiming it is haunted by ghosts, a senior aide said Saturday.

The Rev. Malani Mtonga, presidential aide on Christian affairs, said that President Bingu wa Mutharika had asked the clergy to pray to 'exorcise evil spirits.'

Mtonga refused to give further details about the ghosts. But another aide, who asked for anonymity, said that the president hears footsteps and strange noises at night. Nobody else, including the president's wife, hears anything, the aide said.

He said it had been decided that the 71-year-old president would sleep at another house in Mtunthama, some 60 miles from the capital, and just work at the presidential mansion.

Mutharika returned Saturday from a weeklong official visit to the European Union (news - web sites) headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, and Luxembourg. It was not immediately clear whether he would spend the night at the mansion or in Mtunthama.

Mutharika moved into the mansion last December amid protests from civil rights groups and opposition leaders who accused him of reneging on his promise to trim government spending.

The presidential mansion was built over 20 years by Malawi's founding president Hastings Kamuzu Banda. The aging dictator stayed in it for only 90 days.

Bakili Muluzi, who succeeded Banda after the 1994 elections that broke the latter's 30-year hold on power, refused to stay in the home, calling it 'obscene opulence' amid grinding poverty. Malawi, in southern Africa, is one of the continent's poorest countries.

Efforts to sell the house to international buyers foundered, and the government turned it into parliamentary headquarters until Mutharika assumed power."

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