|President Bingu wa Mutharika in Malawi's |
capital Lilongwe in July 201
Malawi's President Bingu wa Mutharika is being airlifted to South Africa for emergency treatment following a cardiac arrest. The 78-year-old leader's condition was "very serious", an unnamed diplomat told Reuters. There has not yet been any official statement on his health.
According to the BBC, Mutharika initially received treatment in the intensive care unit of a clinic in the capital, Lilongwe, where several family and cabinet members gathered to be by his side.
He collapsed during a meeting this morning [Apr. 5], local newspaper the Nyasa Times reported.
Reuters quoted a hospital source as saying he was still unconscious.
Under Malawi's constitution, the vice president – currently Joyce Banda – must take over if the president is too ill to serve, according to the Nyasa Times.
That scenario would represent a "huge shake-up" in Malawian politics, said the BBC's correspondent, since Mutharika expelled Banda from his party in 2010 after they dramatically fell out.
Mutharika has been president of Malawi since 2004.
Malawi's next presidential election is scheduled for 2014, when Mutharika is due to step down.
Some have been expecting him to push the vote back, according to the Guardian, while others suspected he would hand power over to his brother, Peter Mutharika, who is currently foreign minister.