Mutharika, Bingu wa

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Bingu wa Mutharika (bēng´gōō wä mōōtä´rēkä), 1934–2012, Malawian economist and political leader, b. Nyasaland (now Malawi) as Brightson Webster Ryson Thom; he africanized his name during the 1960s. Mutharika served in the governments of Nyasaland (1963–64) and Zambia (1965––66). He then worked as a loan officer at the World Bank, held several UN posts, including director for trade and development finance for Africa (1978–90), and was secretary-general (1991–97) of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). Mutharika cofounded the United Democratic Front in 1992. Following an unsuccessful bid for president in 1999 he was made deputy governor of Malawi's central bank, and in 2002 was named minister of economic planning and development. Elected president in 2004 and 2009, he led an anticorruption campaign, breaking with former president Muluzi and founding the Democratic Progressive party in 2005. His first term was marked by economic improvements in the country, but rising prices, high unemployment, and human-rights abuses caused widespread protests in 2011.