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Malawi Confirms Death of President Mutharika


Malawi's President Bingu wa Mutharika takes the oath of office during his inauguration ceremony at the Kamuzu stadium in Blantyre, May 22, 2009.

Malawi's President Bingu wa Mutharika takes the oath of office during his inauguration ceremony at the Kamuzu stadium in Blantyre, May 22, 2009.

Bingu wa Mutharika dies of heart attack at age 78

Malawi State radio is confirming President Bingu wa Mutharika is dead.

Saturday's official announcement follows multiple reports quoting medical and government sources on the president's death.

Mr. Mutharika was rushed to a hospital Thursday in the capital, Lilongwe, after falling ill at his home.

On Friday, medical and government sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the 78-year-old president died of a heart attack, but the government would not confirm the reports.

Mr. Mutharika was elected president of Malawi in 2004 and won 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. But in more recent years, the economy has stumbled and unemployment has been high. Critics of the late president say he had become increasingly autocratic. Nineteen people were killed last July in anti-government protests.

An economist by education, Mr. Mutharika was a World Bank official and served as a 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.

He later broke away from Mr. Muluzi and formed the Democratic Progressive Party, which has the majority in parliament.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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