The first female president in Malawi is set to take over the reigns of power following the sudden death of the country's president, Bingu Wa Mutharika, aged 78.
Joyce Banda, 61, who has been vice president of Malawi under Mutharika's reign is now the first female president in that country and joins Liberia's Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the line of Africa's female Head of States. She is expected to lead the country until 2014 elections.
Joyce Banda who had a fall out with the late president leading to her expulsion from Mutharika's ruling party (DPP) in 2010, but not from her government post was feared could be sidelined by Mutharika's party.
Following Mutharika's death, hardliners in Mutharika's party looked on course to subvert the constitution and sideline her from assuming her official presidential duties as per constitutionally requirements that the vice president takes over the office of presidency in the event of death or incapacitation of the president.
But in her first press conference as president, Banda on Saturday looked to have overcome that hurdle and told the press that "The constitution is prevailing right now" and appealed for calm in Malawi.
"I call upon all Malawians to remain calm and to keep the peace during this time of bereavement," Banda said.
The international community and Malawi's former president Bakili Muluzi had raised their concern over the delay in transfer of power and the seemingly imminent constitutional coup by the late president's party (DPP) who wanted to impose the late president's brother, Peter.
"We are concerned about the delay in the transfer of power. We trust that the vice president who is next in line will be sworn in shortly," said Johnnie Carson, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs on Friday.
The State has declared 10 days of official mourning for Mutharika whose body still remains in South Africa as the government is to commence arrangements to repatriate it back to Malawi.