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South Africa urges orderly transition in Malawi

South African President Jacob Zuma called Saturday for an orderly transition in Malawi, following the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika.

“We call on the people of Malawi to remain calm. We are confident that Malawi’s democratic institutions will ensure a peaceful and orderly transition,” Zuma said in a statement.

“As the government and the people of South Africa, we reach out in our thoughts and prayers to the people of Malawi during this difficult time of mourning the death of president Mutharika.”

Mutharika’s body was flown to South Africa following his fatal heart attack on Thursday. Malawi’s government says he was declared dead upon arrival at Pretoria military hospital.

His death plunged Malawi into two days of political intrigue, as Mutharika’s inner clique sought to block his breakaway Vice President Joyce Banda from taking power, after she was expelled from the ruling party in 2010.

But Banda took the reins Saturday, calling her first cabinet meeting with the army and police chiefs at her side.