Malawian Vice President Joyce Banda was sworn in as president today, ending two days of political uncertainty after the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika, CNN is reporting. The longtime women’s activist was sworn in during a ceremony in the capital, Lilongwe, and is the country’s first female president.
Banda’s ascension was being contested, even though Malawi’s constitution states the vice president is the first in line to succeed the president in an emergency. Banda’s falling out with the ruling party had raised fears of a power struggle. It was initially uncertain if she could become president; she was expelled from the party in 2010, following a dispute with Mutharika over his efforts to make his brother as his eventual successor. She later formed her own opposition party, the People’s Party, but remained Vice President.
Patricia Kaliati, who serves as Malawi’s information and civic education minister, initially raised doubt on Banda’s succession. She said “the conduct of the honorable (Joyce) Banda in forming her own opposition party precludes her from being eligible to succeed the presidency.”
But the international community urged Malawi’s government to observe the succession process in the country’s constitution. The government ultimately decided to listen and follow the terms listed in the constitution.
Written by: Karen Benardello