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Doctors: Malawi president dies after heart attack


BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika has died after a heart attack, doctors who treated him said Friday, as the troubled and impoverished southern African nation awaited official word of Mutharika's death and who would succeed him.

The doctors, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters, said the 78-year-old died Thursday, and his body was then flown to South Africa, apparently to buy time for politicians who may be squabbling over the succession.

Malawi's government has so far issued only a brief statement on state radio and television, saying Mutharika was taken ill and was flown to South Africa for further treatment.

A Cabinet minister, speaking on condition of anonymity because the matter is sensitive, said announcing the death required taking political steps. He did not elaborate, but questions over succession are likely complicating matters.



Women's activist Banda becomes Malawi's president

LILONGWE (Reuters) - Prominent women's rights campaigner Joyce Banda was sworn in as Malawi's president on Saturday, becoming southern Africa's first female head of state and raising hopes for a fresh start in the small, poor nation after the death of her mercurial predecessor.

Banda, a 61-year-old policeman's daughter who has won international recognition for championing the education of underprivileged girls, had served as vice president under Bingu wa Mutharika, who died on Thursday following a heart attack.

She succeeded him under the terms of the constitution.

Aid-dependent Malawi had slid into economic crisis over the last year as Mutharika, a professorial but temperamental former World Bank economist, squabbled with major western donors who then froze millions of dollars of assistance.

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