Bingu wa Mutharika

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President Bingu wa Mutharika addressing the United Nations General Assembly.

Bingu wa Mutharika (born February 24, 1934), Malawi economist and politician, became President of Malawi on May 24, 2004, after winning a disputed presidential election.

Mutharika was born in the Thyolo, about 30km from Malawi's commercial capital, Blantyre, the son of a Catholic primary school teacher. He was educated at the University of Delhi, India, where he gained a master's degree in economics. He later obtained a PhD in development economics from Pacific Western University in Los Angeles.

After serving in the Malawi civil service and also for a period in the government of Zambia, Mutharika joined the United Nations in 1978, where he eventually became Director for Trade and Development Finance for Africa. In 1991 he was appointed secretary-general of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), a regional body of 20 countries.

One reason for Mutharika's decision to join the UN was his opposition to the regime of Malawi's self-declared "President for Life," Hastings Banda. After Banda was forced to liberalise his regime, Mutharika was one of the founders of the United Democratic Front, the party that won Malawi's first multiparty elections in 1994.

Mutharika was at that time a supporter of the UDF leader, President Bakili Muluzi, but he soon became a critic of Muluzi's economic policies and left the UDF. He formed the United Party (UP) in 1997 and unsuccessfully opposed Muluzi in the 1999 presidential elections.

Mutharika dissolved the UP and rejoined the UDF after being offered the deputy governorship at Reserve Bank of Malawi. He was appointed Minister of Economic Planning and Development in 2002, and was then nominated by Muluzi as his successor.

On February 5, 2005, Mutharika announced his resignation from the UDF. He had come into conflict with Muluzi, who is head of the party, and his supporters. Mutharika has campaigned against corruption and has been criticized by some in the UDF, [1] ( and there had previously been talk of expelling him from the party. [2] ( There had also been an alleged assassination plot against him by party members in early January 2005. Those accused were later pardoned by Mutharika, but he maintained the existence of the plot. [3] (

It was reported in March 2005 that he was not sleeping in the state mansion because of suspicions that it is home to evil spirits. A presidential aide was quoted as saying that Christian clergy had been asked to exorcise the spirits. This was subsequently denied, and journalists responsible for the story, including a BBC reporter, were arrested. Mutharika said that "I have not met any ghosts yet, I have never in my life been afraid of them". [4] ( He has since formed his own party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)[5] (

Preceded by:
Bakili Muluzi
President of Malawi
Succeeded by:

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