Malawi President fires Mutharika’s brother, hires new cabinet

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Malawi’s new president has fired the late Bingu wa Mutharika’s brother, Peter and hired a sharp critic of her predecessor in a cabinet reshuffle.

Joyce Banda fired Foreign Minister Peter Mutharika and most other Mutharika loyalists on Thursday.

Peter Mutharika: Fired!

Banda had opposed Bingu wa Mutharika’s attempt to have his brother succeed him. Banda was expelled from the Mutharika party, but retained the vice-presidency and succeeded Bingu wa Mutharika after his death of a heart attack on April 5. Peter Mutharika took over his brother’s party.
Banda will complete Mutharika’s second term, which ends in 2014.

Banda’s new justice minister, lawyer Ralph Kasambara, had labelled Bingu wa Mutharika a would-be dictator and called for his impeachment. Banda, who assumed power on April 7 after the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika two days earlier, retained several veterans from the party of her predecessor, with whom she and many stalwarts had fallen out over succession plans.

The president put herself in charge of the civil service, disaster management, nutrition, HIV and AIDS. She is also commander in chief of the Malawi defence Force and the 8,000 strong Malawi police service.

Banda restored several former officials who, like herself, were thrown out of Mutharika’s party, including Khumbo Kachale, who is named health minister.
Another who fell out with Mutharika, former attorney general Ralph Kasambara, will combine his old role with that of justice minister.

Mutharika had expelled Banda from his ruling party in a bitter succession battle, as he chose to groom his brother Peter as heir apparent. Last year she formed her own People’s Party and became a vocal critic of Mutharika’s handling of the economy.

Ken Lipenga remains finance minister in the new cabinet while former vice president Cassim Chilumpha, accused of plotting to assassinate Mutharika in a treason trial yet to be concluded, will head minister of energy and mining.

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