Like Kenya, Malawi court nullifies presidential election 8 months after swearing-in
London, Feb. 4, 2020 (AltAfrica)-The Constitutional Court in the southern African nation of Malawi has nullified the results of last year’s presidential election, citing “widespread, systematic and grave” irregularities including significant use of correction fluid to alter the outcome.
Long-peaceful Malawi became just the second country in sub-Saharan Africa to see a presidential vote overturned. In 2017, Kenya’s Supreme Court shocked the country by annulling the presidential election, citing irregularities. President Uhuru Kenyatta won the fresh election as the leading opposition candidate boycotted the vote.
In the landmark ruling on Monday, the court describe the conduct of the electoral commission as “very lacking and demonstrated incompetence” and ordered presidency to revert to pre- elections status- meaning that the sacked VP, Chilima would be reinstated as vice president.
Mutharika, Malawi president since 2014, won the election in May 2019 with a 38.57% share of the vote, with opposition party leader Lazarus Chakwera getting 35.41% and Deputy President Saulos Chilima, who formed his own party, had 20.24% in the final tally.
The electoral commission declared Mutharika the winner despite complaints of irregularities including results sheets with sections blotted out or altered with correction fluid.
Mutharika had pledged to crack down on corruption and revive the economy in his second five-year term.
But Chakwera, the president’s main rival, and Chilima rejected the results and filed a petition to the High Court asking it to nullify the results.
In a unanimous decision, a panel of five judges ordered that a new presidential vote be held within 150 days
“It is almost impossible to have an election free of irregularities,” said Justice Healey Potani, who headed the panel. “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.”