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Malawi's President Joyce Banda becomes Africa's third female head of state

Lilongwe, Sun, 08 Apr 2012 ANI

Lilongwe, Apr 8 (ANI): Malawi's Vice President Joyce Banda has become Africa's third female head of state after taking over as the country's president following the death of Bingu wa Mutharika.

Joyce Banda was elected to be the third-ever African head of state on Saturday, after Ethiopian Empress Zewditu and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Banda, a women's rights activist, described 'restoring relations with donor nations to the poverty stricken nation', as her first challenge.

In an announcement from Lilongwe, Banda ordered a ten-day period of mourning for Mutharika.

"I call upon all Malawians to remain calm and to keep the peace during this time of bereavement," The Christian Science Monitor quoted her, as saying.

According to the report, Banda's succession as the next President was doubtful as the announcement of Mutharika's death was delayed, and some ministers had even claimed that Banda was ineligible for the job.

Mutharika, a former World Bank economist, had a tensed relationship with Banda following a dispute over Mutharika intentions to have his brother, Peter, to take over as presidential candidate in the 2014 elections, to which Banda had reportedly objected.

She eventually left the Democratic Progresive Party (DPP) and formed her own opposition, People's Party.

Mutharika had allegedly tried to have her removed as vice president, but the effort was futile as under Malawi's Constitution, it is the parliament and not the president who can remove a vice president. (ANI)

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