Malawi’s President – in Power Since 2004

Posted April 5th, 2012 at 7:00 pm (UTC-5)
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President Bingu wa Mutharika has ruled Malawi, a landlocked country in southeast Africa, since 2004. The country was formerly known as Nyasaland.

Mr. Mutharika is the head of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which won a landslide victory in 2009 general elections and has the majority in parliament.

An economist by education, Mr. Mutharika was a World Bank official and a served as civil servant in Malawi. He was appointed minister of economic planning and development in 2002 and then President Bakili Muluzi nominated him as his successor.

Mr. Mutharika won the presidential election May 20, 2004, ahead of John Tembo and Gwanda Chakuamba, and took office a few days later.

He was credited with improving food security in Malawi and with making his country a political and economic model for other African countries.

He ran for re-election in 2009 and won a landslide victory.

But in more recent years, the economy has stumbled and unemployment has been high.

Anti-government demonstrations across Malawi last year were met with an unprecedented security crackdown, which resulted in at least 18 deaths.

This led to strained relations with foreign donors who accused Malawi's president of being authoritarian and of violating human rights.

In 2010, he became the head of the African Union, replacing former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

President Mutharika is 78 years old. He was rushed to a hospital Thursday, after collapsing at his official residence.

Under the Malawian Constitution, Vice President Joyce Banda is second in line and would serve the remaining two years of Mr. Mutharika's term if he were not able to do so.