Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika, once hailed as a positive steward for the southern African country, has died after a heart attack, government officials said Friday.
Mutharika was 78.
His body was flown to South Africa, the offic
The former World Bank economist first became president in 2004 after campaigning as an “economic engineer,” and was re-elected five years later.
He took the top job after studying in various countries, including the United States, where he obtained a doctorate in economics. He also had a long career with international agencies.
Mutharika focused on battling corruption and working to improve the economy during his first years in office, mostly hailed as a success.
He implemented a popular program targeting farmers that is credited with boosting the economy of the largely agricultural nation and helping millions by subsidizing agricultural products.
Citizens welcomed his focus on reducing reliance on food aid and attaining self-sufficiency.
However, his popularity has plunged in recent years as the economy faltered and the nation faced chronic fuel scarcity, foreign exchange reserve shortages and frequent power blackouts.