Malawi to Bury Late President

Posted April 23rd, 2012 at 5:45 am (UTC-5)
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Malawi is set to bury late president Bingu wa Mutharika, who died of a heart attack earlier this month.

Several African presidents are in Malawi for Monday's funeral in Mr. Mutharika's home district, including the leaders of Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

Malawi's information minister, Moses Kunkuyu, told VOA that the leaders of many political parties have paid their respects along with people from all regions of the country.

“Malawi is a unified state — in life, in death, Malawi's always united.”

Mr. Mutharika had broken with his vice president, Joyce Banda, who was expelled from the ruling party but rose to the presidency as directed in the country's constitution.

Kunkuyu said President Banda's role in the nation's response shows its unity.

“It is the president that is leading the nation in the whole mourning period, mourning our former head of state professor Bingu wa Mutharika. So that is indicative in its own that there is nothing like dissenting or having differences during a funeral.”

Mr. Mutharika ruled Malawi since being elected president in 2004 and winning a second term in 2009.

He was credited with improving food security in Malawi and, at one time, making his country a political and economic model for other African countries. In recent years, the national economy stumbled and unemployment rose sharply, and critics accused the late president of increasingly autocratic behavior.