Peter Mutharika, who was on Friday declared the winner of Malawi's disputed presidential election, is set to take the reins of the impoverished southern African country under the shadow of a treason charge. The 74-year-old brother of former president Bingu wa Mutharika is accused of attempting to conceal his brother's death in office two years ago in an attempt to prevent Joyce Banda -- then vice-president -- from assuming power. Banda prevailed and took office as decreed by the constitution, booting the former foreign minister out of the administration, but Mutharika beat her soundly in the May 20 election. The trial is still pending, but analysts say it is likely the case will be set aside as Malawi's presidents enjoy immunity from prosecution as long as they are in office.
President Barack Obama's under-fire Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned Friday, paying the price for an expanding scandal over failures in health care for America's retired warriors. "Secretary Shinseki offered his resignation. The president said that an initial review by Shinseki, 71, had found that delays and other management failures in veterans' health care were not confined to one facility in Arizona, but were systemic and nationwide.
The United States on Friday flatly rejected a plan laid out by Thailand's junta chief to delay elections for more than a year to allow time for political reforms. "We know that they have announced a, quote, 'road map toward democracy,' but with scant details included," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. She insisted that Washington believed the best path forward was "to set a timeline for early elections and to facilitate an inclusive and transparent electoral process." Only after this could elections be held, he said.
The leader of South Sudan's rebels, former vice president Riek Machar, said Friday he was "committed to peace" and ready to resume peace talks next week in Ethiopia. Speaking after talks in Nairobi with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Machar also described the nearly six-month-old conflict in the world's youngest nation as "senseless war". And I want to assure you that we are serious about bringing peace to South Sudan," he said in a brief statement after the talks. "I want to assure you that we are serious in ending this senseless killing in South Sudan.