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Malawi Vice President says she’s next in line for presidency

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Malawi's Vice President Joyce Banda on Friday criticised the government's silence on the fate of President Bingu wa Mutharika, and insisted she is first line to take up his office.

"The people of Malawi have the right to know about the state of health of the president," Banda told a press conference at her home in the capital Lilongwe.

Doctors and politicians, all speaking on condition of anonymity, have confirmed that Mutharika died after suffering a heart attack on Thursday.

The government has yet to make an official announcement, leaving the nation to speculate about his fate and his succession, after Banda was booted out of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party in 2010.

Banda repeated the official line that Mutharika had been flown to South Africa "for treatment", although hospital and government officials told AFP that he was sent to Johannesburg to be embalmed.

"I've been in contact with the South African government today to tell us the truth of the matter," she said. "Conflicting information has been coming from Malawi, and Malawians are in the dark."

"Meanwhile, I would like to appeal to all Malawians and the international community, that we should adhere to the constitution of the Republic of Malawi (which) states that if the president is incapacitated, the vice president shall assume office."

"It is my sincere hope that Malawians shall adhere to the constitution," she said.

Banda added that she expects an official announcement from the government by the end of the day.

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