LILONGWE, (Reuters) – Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika has died after a heart attack, medical and government sources said today, although few of his countrymen mourned a leader widely seen as an autocrat responsible for a stunning economic collapse.
The 78-year-old was rushed to hospital in Lilongwe on Thursday after collapsing but was dead on arrival, the sources said. State media said he had been flown to South Africa for treatment although his immediate whereabouts remained unclear.
Medical sources said the former World Bank economist had been flown out because a power and energy crisis in the nation of 13 million was so severe the Lilongwe state hospital would have been unable to carry out a proper autopsy or even keep his body refrigerated.
Many Malawians blamed Mutharika personally for the economic woes, which stemmed ultimately from a diplomatic spat with former colonial power Britain a year ago.
“We know he is dead and unfortunately he died at a local, poor hospital which he never cared about – no drugs, no power,” said Chimwemwe Phiri, a Lilongwe businessman waiting in a snaking line of cars for fuel at a petrol station.