Malawi top court nullifies 2019 election

Malawi top court nullifies 2019 election”

Malawi's President Arthur Peter Mutharika waves to supporters during the swearing-in ceremony at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on 28 May 2019.

It said that the Malawi Electoral Commission had discharged its duties with negligence and contrary to the constitution of the country.

In a 500-page judgment that took almost 10 hours to read, Malawi's Constitutional Court annulled the May, 2019, presidential election that had declared Peter Mutharika as the victor with 38.6 per cent of the vote.

A panel of five judges confirmed opposition claims that Tipp-Ex was used to alter the results of a vote that gave President Peter Mutharika victory, saying the result sheets speak for themselves that they were changed. "However, in the present matter our finding is that the anomalies and irregularities have been so widespread, systematic and grave such that the integrity of the result was seriously compromised, and can't be trusted as the will of voters of the May 21, 2019, election".

Malawians waited with bated breath for Monday's ruling.

"We hereby nullify the results of the presidential elections", he added, ordering fresh polls.

Kalekeni Kaphale, attorney general and lead lawyer representing Mutharika and the MEC, said they will meet their clients to chart the way forward.

In a landmark ruling for the country, the court describe the conduct of the electoral commission as "very lacking and demonstrated incompetence".

The judges, citing dictionary definitions of majority and plurality, said the victor in the presidential vote should be voted in by a majority of the total voters, which is to say over 50 percent plus one vote.

The court further ordered that the new elections be held under a majoritarian system, a legal provision which was rejected by the Malawi Parliament some two years ago, who instead opted for simple majority system.

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"We also order that elections should be held within 150 days".

The long-peaceful southern African nation saw deadly confrontations and unrest following the presidential election.

Malawi's Constitutional Court has annulled the results of the May 2019 presidential election.

The two opposition candidates who became second and third in the poll had contested the slim win of President Peter Mutharika, alleging that irregularities affected more than 1.4 million of the total 5.1 million votes cast.

With emotions running high, there had been fears that the court ruling could trigger more of the violence that had occasionally erupted during the protests against the election results.

On Monday, February 4, the judges arrived in the country's capital city, Lilongwe, in the escort of military officers and upheld the complaint.

The worldwide community, including the United Nations and African Union, has issued several statements ahead of the vote urging people across Malawi to uphold the rule of law and remain calm.

A joint statement by diplomats from the US, Britain, the EU, Japan and others acknowledged the tensions around the ruling.

Former law professor Mutharika, 79, oversaw infrastructure improvements and a slowdown in inflation in his first five-year term, but critics accuse him of cronyism and failing to tackle graft.

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