Blantyre (Malawi): Malawi`s president was
hospitalised on Thursday with a heart problem, officials said.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because
they were not authorised to speak to journalists, said
78-year-old President Bingu wa Mutharika was taken to a
Lilongwe hospital this morning.
Further details on his condition were not immediately
Mutharika is a former World Bank official once heralded
for his stewardship of a southern African country that is
among the world`s poorest. In recent years, he has been
accused of trampling on democratic rights.
Mutharika first came to power in a 2004 election, and was
overwhelmingly re-elected five years later. Elections are not
due again in Malawi until 2014.
During his first term, Mutharika persisted with a program
to help farmers buy fertilizer even though Western donor
nations and agencies said subsidies should be avoided in a
free market. His subsidies were credited with boosting
In more recent years, the economy has stumbled, with
shortages of fuel and foreign currency and high unemployment.
Anti-government demonstrations across Malawi last year
were met with an unprecedented security crackdown that
resulted in at least 19 deaths.
Malawi`s relations with foreign donors have been strained
by accusations Mutharika is authoritarian and responsible for
human rights abuses. Last month, a US aid agency that rewards
good governance suspended USD 350 million worth of assistance
Mutharika also has clashed with politicians at home,
including his own vice president, Joyce Banda. She was
expelled from Mutharika`s party and formed her own but remains
vice president and under the constitution would become
president if there was a sudden vacancy at the top.