Joyce Banda greets the audience at her inauguration as Malawi's new president, becoming its first female leader in a ceremony in the capital Lilongwe
Joyce Banda was on Saturday sworn in as Malawi's first woman president and told her supporters there was "no room for revenge" after the divisive Bingu wa Mutharika died in office, reports AFP.
Thunderous applause and joyous singing broke out as Banda completed her presidential oath. She then called for a moment of silence for the man she hailed as a father to the nation.
But she did not shy away from the divisions provoked by Mutharika, who had expelled her from the ruling party.
"I want all of us to move into the future with hope and with that spirit of one-ness and unity," she said.
"I just sincerely hope that there is no room for revenge. I just sincerely hope that we shall stand united," she added.
Mutharika died after a heart attack on Thursday amid calls for his resignation following deadly anti-government protests last year accusing him of wrecking the economy and trampling on democracy.
Banda's accession to the presidency ended two days of political intrigue, as Mutharika's inner circle sought in vain to block her rise to power.
Since her expulsion from Mutharika's Democratic Progressive Party, she has formed her own People's Party -- a move that his allies argued should disqualify her from succeeding him.
Amid pressure from Western and African powers for a peaceful and constitutional transition, Banda appeared Saturday flanked by the army and police chiefs to call a special cabinet meeting and assert her authority.
"I would like you to know that we felt the Holy Spirit in that room, and I would like you all to know that it was a good meeting", she said.
"For me that was significant, because that is the starting point for healing the wounds of this nation."
"I want to sincerely thank Malawians and all people living in Malawi for the respect of the law shown by the peaceful transition of the presidency," Banda added.
The Commonwealth on Saturday expressed its condolences and urged a "peaceful and constitutional way forward".
"The Commonwealth stands in solidarity with Malawi at this trying time," said Kamalesh Sharma, the secretary general of the 54-nation bloc, in a statement issued in London.