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Malawi president to wed

BLANTYRE, Jan 21 – Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika on Wednesday announced that he would marry a former tourism minister on May 1, two years after his first wife died of cancer.

"The President of the republic of Malawi is pleased to announce his engagement to marry Miss Callista Chapola Chimombo, a former minister of tourism and wildlife," a statement from State House in the administrative capital Lilongwe said.

Mutharika, 76, is a "widower and Callista is a widow and both of them are devout Catholics," said the statement, without disclosing the age of the bride, although she is believed to be in her fifties.

"Traditional engagement customs will be held on February 14 and the wedding bells will chime on May 1," the statement added.

Chimombo, a senior member of Mutharika\’s governing Democratic Progressive Party, is a former legislator and was appointed as tourism minister in the first cabinet of the president in 2004.

She has of late been seen sitting next to Mutharika at public functions, fuelling speculation about a possible love affair.

Chimombo denied to a local newspaper about being in love with Mutharika, saying "there is nothing between me and the president."

Mutharika\’s first wife Ethel, who hailed from Zimbabwe, died in 2007 after a battle with cancer.

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