Joyce Banda Sworn in As Malawi’s President

President Bingu wa Mutharika's runningmate Joyce Banda raises her index finger as symbol of the Democratic Progressive Party on May 14, 2009 in Lilongwe, during a campaign, for the upcoming elections. Malawi's constitutional court will, on May 15, rule on the eligibility of ex-president Bakili Muluzi to run for president for a third time in next week's elections.  AFP PHOTO/ AMOS GUMULIRA (Photo credit should read AMOS GUMULIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo: AFP/AFP

Following the death of Bingu wa Mutharika, the BBC reports that Vice-President Joyce Banda has been sworn in as the president of Malawi, making her southern Africa’s first female head of state.* Mutharika, who was 78, suffered a heart attack on Thursday, but his death was not confirmed until today. Despite her position in his administration, Banda was one of Mutharika’s fiercest critics, and some were concerned about a power struggle. The delay in announcing Mutharika’s death was viewed by some as an attempt to bypass the country’s constitution and instead install Mutharika’s brother, Foreign Minister Peter Mutharika, in his place. The U.S. and E.U. had called for the country to adhere to its constitutional process.

*This posted has been corrected to show that Banda is southern Africa’s first female head of state, not the entire continent’s.