Malawi VP Joyce Banda sworn in as new president
Malawi’s Vice President Joyce Banda has been sworn in as the country's new president after the government confirmed the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika following two days of silence.
After taking the oath before parliament in Malawia’s capital of Lilongwe on Saturday, Banda, who had been Malawi’s vice-president since 2009, became South Africa's first modern time female head of state.
The 78-year-old Mutharika’s death, caused by a heart attack on Thursday and pronounced upon arrival at a military hospital in South Africa on the same day, was however, not confirmed until Saturday.
The government’s delay in announcing Mutharika’s death had caused fears of a power struggle.
Rumors had spread that those close to the deceased president were trying to get around Malawi's constitution, under which Banda automatically assumes power as vice president, to prevent her from taking office and instead establish the ex-president’s brother, Foreign Minister Peter Mutharika, in office.
Banda, a fierce critic of Mutharika, who accused him of ruining the economy, faces the challenge of leading a country where the parliament is dominated by Mutharika's party.