MALAWI –Hours after President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi was confirmed dead it is no clear who will succeed him.
According to the Constitution the Vice President takes over when the President dies. But Vice President Joyce Banda is not a member of the ruling party after she was expelled by Mutaharika in 2010.
With her considered a non-party member of the ruling party her candidature as Mutharika’s successor becomes unattainable. After her expulsion she formed her own party and emerged as one of his toughest critics.
Analyst said a constitutional crisis is looming as party officials resist her on account of the expulsion making her ineligible to lead the country pending an election to elect a substantive president.
AFP on Friday quoted Malawi’s ex-leader Bakili Muluzi who reportedly insisted on a "constititional order" saying the vice president must automatically take power.
"I am calling for a constitutional order, for continued peace and order. The laws of Malawi are very clear that the vice president takes over" when the sitting president can no longer govern,” AFP quoted Muluzi telling a news conference.
"We have to avoid a situation where there is disorder. Let us follow the constitution. We have no choice but follow the constitution. It's very important that there must be peace and calm."
The news agency reported that hospital and political sources had confirmed that Mutharika died following a heart attack Thursday, but most ordinary Malawians have yet to receive the news due to an official silence in the state media.
Doctors and cabinet ministers also told the BBC that the Malawi leader was dead, but this had not been officially confirmed.
BBC said one of the doctors who treated Mutharika said the 78-year-old President was "clinically dead" on Thursday after suffering a cardiac arrest.
However, State media are still reporting that he has been flown to South Africa for medical treatment.