Malawi’s constitutional court annulled the results of last year’s presidential election, which returned sitting president Peter Mutharika to power. Citing widespread irregularities, the panel of five judges ordered a new presidential election to take place within 150 days.
The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) was reprimanded for the liberal use of correction fluid to alter voting tallies, duplicate results sheets, and unsigned results forms. The 500-page ruling called it an infringement of Malawians’ constitutional rights.
The MEC announced in May 2019 that Mutharika had narrowly won the presidency with 38 percent of the vote, followed by Lazarus Chakwera with 35 percent and former vice president Saulos Chilima with 30 percent. The remaining four candidates earned 6 percent of the vote altogether. Unhappy with the outcome, Chakwera and Chilima petitioned the courts to review the election results.
Protests have taken place across the country since the election, demanding the resignation of MEC chairperson Jane Ansah. This is the first time in Malawi’s history that a presidential vote has been overturned, and it’s the second sub-Saharan country to do so after Kenyan courts rejected the initial results of the country’s 2017 general election.