Public holiday for Mutharika burial

2012-04-20 19:08
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Malawi president remains return home

Scores of people welcomed home the body of late president Bingu wa Mutharika, flown back from South Africa following his fatal heart attack.

Blantyre - Malawi has declared Monday a national holiday for the burial of its late president Bingu wa Mutharika, with seven African heads of state expected to attend.

New President Joyce Banda's office declared 23 April a public holiday "to give the former president a dignified and honourable state funeral and many Malawians an opportunity to attend the funeral ceremony".

Presidents from Benin, Mozambique, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe are expected.

"I can confirm that seven presidents from Africa will attend the burial ceremony," said local government minister Henry Mussa, who heads the funeral preparations.

Thousands pay last respects

Thousands of people this week queued to pay their last respects as his body lay in state and was moved to three cities across the country.

Mutharika died of a heart attack on 5 April and his body was flown to South Africa for embalming.

The 78-year-old was a former African Union chairperson.

His death was met with mixed reactions, as many people in the impoverished southern African state accuse him of poor economic policies and suppression of basic freedoms.

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