Police chief replaced in Malawi

AP News
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Posted: Apr 09, 2012 4:30 AM
Police chief replaced in Malawi

Malawi's national police chief has been replaced, state media reported Sunday, a day after a new president was sworn in following the death of her predecessor.

Lottie Dzonzi was named to replace Peter Mukhito as police chief. No reason was given.

Mukhito has been closely linked to crackdowns on anti-government protesters under the late Bingu wa Mutharika. Mutharika died Thursday after a heart attack.

Though she was his vice president, Joyce Banda had been estranged from Mutharika, who was accused of trampling on human rights and mismanaging the economy in one of the world's poorest nations. Rights activists in Malawi have welcomed Banda as president.

The Malawi government only confirmed the president's death on Saturday, two days after the leader of the impoverished southern African country died and a day after it was announced by doctors.

The delay in announcing Mutharika's death and allowing Banda to step in led to speculation politicians were squabbling over succession. When Banda was able to take the oath of office Saturday, it was hailed as a victory for the rule of law.

The United States issued a statement welcoming Banda's swearing in.

"By following constitutional procedures for this transition, the government and people of Malawi have reaffirmed their commitment to democratic principles and demonstrated the critical importance of sound democratic institutions," Washington said. "We stand with the people of Malawi during their time of mourning, and look forward to deepening the partnership between our nations.

Banda is faced with the challenge of repairing ties with donors that were strained under Mutharika.

Last month, a U.S. aid agency that rewards good governance suspended $350 million worth of assistance to Malawi. The International Monetary Fund describes its program with Malawi as "off-track."