Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Lawrence Jackson
The death of the President of Malawi, Bingu wa Mutharika, may have been celebrated by a country suffering under his autocratic rule, but the government’s delay at naming his successor had caused alarm both in Malawi and the U.S., Reuters reports.
While the constitution clearly states that Vice President Joyce Banda should take over as head of state, she was booted out of Mutharika’s ruling DPP party in 2010 after he seemed to be grooming his brother Peter, the foreign minister, as his heir. Banda formed her own party, according to the Guardian.There have also been reports that certain senior ministers have been plotting to circumvent the constitution and thwart Banda’s accession, Malawian newspaper Nyasa Times reports. But such a plan may not end well. Mutharika was not a popular leader — many Malawians blame him personally for Malawi’s economic troubles, stemming from a diplomatic spat with Britain — and any attempts by his party at illegality could incite popular rebellion.
Mutharika, 78, died of a heart attack, medical and government sources said on Friday, and his body has been flown to South Africa for an autopsy and embalming. There was no immediate official confirmation of his death, leaving citizens in the dark and Banda to criticise the government’s lack of transparency.
“We are concerned about the delay in the transfer of power,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement. But Banda seems confident she will take over the government as soon as there is official confirmation of Mutharika’s death. “It is my sincere hope that Malawians shall adhere to the Constitution,” she said.
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