Joyce Banda is the President of the Southern African nation of Malawi. She took office after the death of Bingu wa Muthirika on Friday, April 6, 2012., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Malawi VP Joyce Banda sworn in as new president
Sat Apr 7, 2012 6:20PM GMT
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 Southern Africa's first modern time female head of state.
78-year-old Mutharika’s death, caused by a heart attack on Thursday and pronounced upon arrival at a military hospital in South Africa's capital Pretoria 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.