Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday urged political leaders and security agencies to ensure an orderly handover of power in Malawi after the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika.
In an official statement from his office, Jonathan urged them to "ensure an orderly transfer of presidential powers in keeping with Malawi's existing constitutional order ahead of the country's next presidential elections."
The elections are scheduled to be held in 2014.
He assured the people of Malawi of the sympathy and solidarity of the people of Nigeria and Africa as they mourn the death of Mutharika, chairman of the African Union from January 2010 to January 2011.
Mutharika's death has plunged Malawi into two days of political intrigue, as his inner clique sought to block his breakaway Vice President Joyce Banda from taking power, after she was expelled from the ruling party in 2010.
But Banda took the reins Saturday, calling her first cabinet meeting with the army and police chiefs at her side.
Once in office, she becomes only the second female African head of state in modern times, after Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Banda would also lead a country where the parliament is dominated by Mutharika's party, which expelled her.
Banda, leader of her own People's Party and a fierce critic of Mutharika, accused him of running the economy into the ground.
Mutharika, a former World Bank economist who first came to power in 2004, was re-elected with a sweeping majority in 2009 as president of the poor southern African country.