Incapacitated Mutharika taken to South Africa hospital

Incapacitated Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika, 78, is being taken to a South African hospital in a bid to resuscitate him from a cardiac arrest, cabinet sources say.

Malawi cabinet met for an emergency meeting when the President was taken ill to Kamuzu Central Hospital suffering a heart attack Thursday morning.

An air ambulance is airlifting the President to Garden Centre Clinic in South Africa as he remains unconscious. The flight leaves Kamuzu International Airport at 7pm.

Mutharika: Unconcious

“He had a cardiac arrest, he is still unconscious since 9:00 am (0700 GMT),” a senior official at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe said on condition of anonymity.

Government officials were coy to comment and presidential spokesman Hetherwick Ntaba only speaking off record.

Legal experts are calling on cabinet declare President Mutharika permanently incapacitated in order to allow Vice President Joyce Banda to take over as substantive president.

But Mutharika’s inner circle was attempting to retain control and that cabinet would remain in control of the state of affairs while the President recuperated.

Meanwhile, the Vice President says she wishes Mutharika a” swift recovery”, although the relationship between the two has been rocky since she was kicked out of the ruling DPP party in 2010 after a row over succession.

However, the constitution makes clear she is first in line to take over, putting her on a collision course with Mutharika’s inner circle, including his Foreign Minister brother Peter, who normally deputises in his sibling’s absence.

Mutharika, a former World Bank economist, was re-elected in 2009 as president.

His second term has been marred by anti-government protests, with activists accusing him of mismanaging the economy and trampling on democratic freedoms.

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