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Malawi Constitutional Court Nullifies Presidential Election

For the second time in African History, Malawi’s Constitutional Court nullified on Monday the re-election of a sitting president, ordering a new vote to be held within 150 days, after discovering that last year’s poll was not free and fair.

In a unanimous decision, all five judges of the Court agreed to nullify the May 21 2019 presidential elections and called for fresh elections. The Court said the first respondent Peter Mutharika, was unduly elected president, as read by Justice Healey Potani, the lead judge for the five-judge panel of the Constitutional Court.

No presidential election in Malawi has ever been nullified before. This is the second of its kind in Africa after a Supreme Court in Kenya nullified the result of the August 8, 2017 presidential election won by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“The Court said it investigated whether some Forms 66C were altered and the numbers were very substantial. To the Court such alterations should not have happened if the elections were free and fair. They introduce doubt in the validity of the elections,” according to Nation Online Malawi.

“We hold that the first respondent was not duly elected as President of Malawi. As result we here by order nullification of the elections. We further order that a fresh election be held in accordance to the law and pursuant to directions we will make soon,” the court said.

“The status quo in the presidency; that is including the office of the Vice president reverts to what was prior to elections,” Justice Potani said.

Malawians are astonished by this ruling, giving that the election was endorsed by many observers, both foreign and regional observers, including Southern African Development Community.

A few days before the hearing, the chairperson of the SADC Organ, President Emmerson Mnangagwa urged all stake holders in Malawi to respect the judgement of the Constitutional Court on the election petition challenging the May 21 presidential election results.

The election on May 21 was conducted peacefully and was largely praised by international observers. However, after the results were proclaimed, protesters took to the streets for days frowning at President Mutharika’s victory. It was after a High Court in Malawi lifted an injunction allowing Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to announce final results of the poll. President Mutharika was sworn in on May 28, 2019, for his second and final term.

Subsequently, they disgruntled protesters began asking both President Peter Mutharika and the Malawi Electoral Commission chair Jane Ansah to step down.

His main challengers were his former deputy, Saulos Chilima, and the leader of the country’s biggest opposition party, Lazarus Chakwera.

Mutharika secured a slim margin of victory over opposition chief Lazarus Chakwera. The final records indicated that he got 1,940,709 (38.57%) with Chakwera getting 1,781,740 (35.41%). Former VP Saulos Chilima came in thrid with 1,107,369 (20.24%).

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