Late President’s Body Returned to Malawi

Posted April 14th, 2012 at 2:30 pm (UTC-5)
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The body of Malawi's late president Bingu wa Mutharika has arrived in his homeland from South Africa, more than a week after he died of a heart attack.

The body was flown into Malawi's capital, Lilongwe, on Saturday as thousands of people gathered at the airport and along the airport road to pay their respects.

His successor, President Joyce Banda, was at the airport with other officials to receive the body. A band played solemn music and soldiers gave him a 21-gun salute.

The head of Malawi's Catholic Church, Bishop Joseph Zuza, offered prayers for the unpopular president, asking that Mr. Mutharika's sins be forgiven and that Malawians pray for his soul to rest in eternal peace.

Mr. Mutharika's body will lie in state at several locations in the country before he is buried on a farm in his home district, next to the remains of his first wife.

The controversial president suffered a heart attack April 5 and died despite being rushed to the hospital. His body was immediately taken to South Africa. The reason was not clear.

Mr. Mutharika had broken with his vice president, Joyce Banda, and seemed to be grooming his brother Peter, a government minister, to replace him as president. But Ms. Banda rose to the presidency as directed in the country's constitution.