Malawi's Banda becomes Africa's third female head of state
Vice President Joyce Banda took over as Malawi's president on Saturday. Her first challenge: restoring relations with donor nations to the poverty stricken nation.
Following the death of Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika, Africa now has two female heads of state. On Satuday, Malawi’s government announced the death of President Mutharika, the former World Bank economist, and the succession of his vice president, Joyce Banda. Sworn in on Saturday evening, Ms. Banda is the third-ever female African head of state, after Ethiopian Empress Zewditu and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.Skip to next paragraph
Good reads: Freedom of speech, YouTube cats, and campaign strategy
Good Reads: Hillsborough, rural Russians, and chasing dreams of spaceflight
Good Reads: Israel's Iran debate, Scalia's 'originalism,' and blasphemy in Pakistan
Good Reads: Volcanoes, guillotines, and the key to happiness
The real danger for South Africa after Lonmin mine shooting
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Ms. Banda’s succession was shaky. The announcement of Mutharika’s death was delayed nearly two days, and some ministers had claimed that Banda was ineligible for the job, since she left the ruling Democratic Progressive Party after a dispute with Mutharika.
"I call upon all Malawians to remain calm and to keep the peace during this time of bereavement," Banda said at a press conference, where members of the cabine and the heads of the Army and the police were present.
The relatively smooth transition of power, thus far, comes as a relief to Malawians and to the country’s southern African neighbors. Just nine months ago, thousands of Malawians took to the streets to protest high food and fuel prices in demonstrations that appeared to be inspired in part by the Arab uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. In response, Mutharika launched a crackdown, with at least 20 demonstrators killed. In a press conference, Mutharika blamed Banda for the protests and was unapologetic for his strong-arm methods.