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Malawi's Joyce Banda, the other "Iron Lady"

PressReleasePing - December 29, 2016 -Unlike her Liberian counterpart, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Joyce Banda, who became vice-president in 2009, has most certainly not had to do any campaigning. Taking over the helm of affairs after Bingu wa Mutharika's death on 6 April has been far from easy. Once divorced and then remarried, and minister several times between 2004 and 2009, Banda was ousted from the ruling party after having opposed a power succession project involving the president's brother. And her stance in the matter boosted the popularity of Joyce, also known as a staunch feminist. Mutharika's last term in office saw the government facing several severe economic crises, as he started drifting towards dictatorial rule - a dictatorial drift that reached its highest point in July 2011, after a violently suppressed demonstration caused the deaths of 19 people. Having become the figurehead of the opposition, Joyce Banda has been the main target of a myriad of provocative jokes as well as a fierce resistance from the ruling party's rank and file, even after the demise of their leader. And a plan to kick out the vice president put together by the late president's party failed to work. Joyce went straight to work, uprooting those who had been behind the failed plot. On her very first day in office, she dismissed the Minister of Information, who had previously tried to obstruct her from reaching office, and the Head of the Police, who was presumed responsible for the violence, which the opposition had fallen victim. Nonetheless, Joyce Banda now has to tackle the arduous task of putting the country back on its feet in order to get the support of Malawians, before the next presidential elections in 2014.

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