Malawi’s Electoral Commission announced that a re-run of the country’s presidential election will be held on July 2, 2020. On February 3, Malawi’s Constitutional Court nullified the previous election that granted incumbent president Peter Mutharika a second term, citing widespread irregularities at polling stations, including the use of correction fluid on ballots. President Mutharika is challenging the ruling; his appeal will be heard by the Malawian Supreme Court starting on April 15.
The nullification of the vote on legal grounds was a precedent-setting first for Malawi. It is only the second African country to do so after the Kenyan Supreme Court nullified the results of its presidential election in September 2017.
Why It Matters
President Mutharika last week fired Malawi army commander General Vincent Nundwe and his deputy Clement Namangale, only hours after vetoing parliamentary bills put before him to set up new elections. Mutharika also dissolved his cabinet over the weekend, which allows him to appoint members of the opposition United Democratic Front—his former party—to his cabinet in an attempt to form an electoral alliance.
These moves bode ill for a peaceful re-election. General Nundwe enjoys popular support, and his dismissal is particularly worrisome, as the Malawian army previously refused orders by the government to forcefully break up civil protests. The disputed election has led to a months-long political crisis that has brought thousands of Malawians on to the streets. A shake-up of the army command could mean that Mutharika expects the soldiers to act with more force against the protestors.