Joyce Banda, who marked her first week as Malawi’s president Saturday, needs to shore up the country’s economy, a former president said.

Bakili Muluzi, who served as president from 1994 to 2004, said shortages, low incomes and other economic woes should be Banda’s top priority, Voice of America reported.

“We need to address issues of economy first so that people can breathe some air. The last three years have been very difficult,” he said.

Malawi, a landlocked country in southeast Africa that was once the British colony of Nyasaland, is one of the world’s poorest countries. Banda became president after the unexpected death of Bingu wa Mutharika, who had been president since 2004.

Mike Banda, head of the Malawi Economic Justice Network, said the new president also needs to repair Malawi’s relationship with major international donors, including the International Monetary Fund. The country is heavily dependent on aid for its efforts to expand its economy beyond agriculture.

Banda, at a news conference Tuesday, said she is optimistic about increasing aid.

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