Soldiers guard Malawi TV, radio

2012-04-07 19:31
Blantyre - Soldiers on Saturday took over security at Malawi's state radio and television in the commercial hub Blantyre to ensure a "peaceful transition" following the president's death, an army spokesperson said.

"There was need to ensure a peaceful transition of power from a civilian government to another civilian government as enshrined in the republican Constitution," army spokesperson, Lieutenant Fran Kayanula told reporters.

"There is nothing to fear. Our task is to help the civilian, elected government which people put into power," he said.

The announcement came as cabinet ministers gathered at parliament in the capital Lilongwe for the swearing in of Vice President Joyce Banda, who is set to succeed Bingu wa Mutharika as head of state.

Mutharika, 78, died on Thursday after a heart attack, prompting fears of a power struggle because Banda had been expelled from the ruling party in 2010.

Those fears had subsided on Saturday as Malawi moved to swear in Banda, who is set to become the first woman to take the presidency.

Normally police guard both the radio and television stations around the clock, but a dozen soldiers took over security on Saturday morning, searching workers and allowing in visitors with identity cards, said one staffer at the television station.

Toting guns and in camouflage uniforms, the staffer said the soldiers were not harassing anybody, but politely asked for identities.

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