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article imagePresident of Malawi suffers cardiac arrest

By Amanda Payne     Apr 5, 2012 in World
The President of the small African country of Malawi has been rushed to hospital following a cardiac arrest on the morning of Thursday April 5. President Bingu wa Mutharika is said to be in intensive care.
The 78-year-old President first came to power in Malawi in 2004 after an election. He then set up his own political party, the DPP and was re-elected with a large majority in 2009.
Information about the President's condition is confusing. The BBC reports that he was taken to the main hospital in Malawi's capital city Lilongwe with a source quoted by Reuters news agency as saying that there was "panic" when the president was brought in. He is said to be unconscious in the intensive care unit of the hospital.
However a government spokeswoman, Patricia Kaliati, insisted that the president was not ill and there has been as yet no official declaration about the state of the president's health. No-one in the country seems willing to speak openly to the press but several people have spoken to media sources unofficially.
Al Jazeera reports that the president is in a critical condition and that he will be air-lifted to South Africa for emergency treatment. He was accompanied by his wife Calista to the hospital and several cabinet ministers have been seen going in and out of the hospital.
New Zimbabwe reports that the president collapsed during a meeting with a member of parliament and was taken by ambulance to the hospital in a three vehicle convoy. The report also claims the president is being air-lifted to South Africa as the health service in Malawi is very poor. Police were sent out onto the streets to ensure order.
Vice President Joyce Banda is now officially in charge of the country although she and the president have had a very rocky relationship since 2010. She is likely to have to face the president's brother Peter, Malawi's Foreign Minister, who usually acts as deputy should the president be out of the country for any reason.
According to New Zimbabwe:
"Despite Mutharika's condition, there was little sympathy on the streets of Blantyre, the commercial capital, where many people view him as an autocrat who has mishandled the economy, causing chronic shortages of fuel, food and foreign exchange."
Malawi is best known to the western world as the country from where the pop star Madonna has adopted two children. It is a very poor country with a high incident of HIV and AIDS. The country has a poor human rights record and has a very strict moral code which bans homosexuality.
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