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Malawi Confirms President Mutharika's Death

The government of Malawi has confirmed the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika, two days after he succumbed to a heart attack, and declared 10 days of national mourning Saturday following the death.

Reports were there on Friday citing unnamed medical and government sources that Mutharika, 78, has died after a heart attack. Mutharika suffered a cardiac arrest on Thursday and was taken to South Africa for treatment, as the medial facilities currently available in Malawi were limited.

According to the media reports, Mutharika had died on Thursday after he was admitted to hospital following the cardiac arrest. There was no formal announcement from the Malawian government on that day, which resulted in a political suspense over his succession.

Under the constitution, Vice President Joyce Banda is in line to take over as head of state. Malawi's constitution stipulates that vice-president would automatically become the head of state if the sitting president is either incapacitated or dies. Under the present circumstances, Banda would take over as president for the reminder of Mutharika's term.

Mutharika was first elected to power in Malawi in 2004. He subsequently quit his United Democratic Front party, accusing senior party members of opposing his campaign against corruption.

Banda, was elected to office along with Mutharika in the 2009 election. But she later fell out with Mutharika after a row over succession, and was expelled from the Democratic Progressive Party in 2010. She now heads her own People's Party.

by RTT Staff Writer

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