WASHINGTON — The United States on Monday congratulated Joyce Banda on becoming Malawi's new president following what it hailed as a peaceful and constitutional transfer of power.

In Lilongwe, Banda on Saturday told supporters there was no room for revenge as she was sworn in as Africa's second female head of state in modern times after the death of the divisive Bingu wa Mutharika.

Banda offered the conciliatory words following two days of political intrigue in which Mutharika's inner circle tried to block her assuming the post, which fell to her as vice president under the terms of the constitution.

In congratulating Banda, the United States "looks forward to continued partnership with the government and people of Malawi," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke with Banda earlier Monday about the "importance of adhering to rule of law, and to working across parties as the government of Malawi moves forward," Nuland said.

"We congratulate Malawi for ensuring that the transfer of power was both peaceful and reflected the letter and spirit of their constitution," Nuland said.

"The people of Malawi have demonstrated once again their commitment to democratic values as the foundation of the rule of law," she added.

The United States also extended its condolences to Mutharika's family.