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Presidential elections in Malawi nullified

The Constitutional Court in the southern African nation of Malawi on Monday nullified the results of last year’s presidential election, citing “widespread, systematic and grave” irregularities including significant use of correction fluid,Tipp-Ex and also lack of signatures on some results forms to alter the outcome.”  The two leading opposition candidates had challenged the narrow election win of President Peter Mutharika,alleging that the irregularities affected over 1.4 million of the total 5.1 million votes cast.  A new vote is to held in 150 days.

The five-judge panel also challenged the electoral system as the results presented  suggested that no one was elected by a majority in accord with the Constitution, and suggested that that Malawi’s Elections Act be amended.

Mutharika had been declared the narrow winner of Malawi’s May election with 38% of votes, followed by Lazarus Chakwera with 35% and former vice president Saulos Chilima third with 20%. The four other candidates collectively got nearly 6%. However after the panel reviewed the evidence presented to prove that Mutharika and the electoral commission had rigged the elections,both parties acknowledged some irregularities, but argued they were not sufficient to affect the elections outcome.

 

The long court case has been accompanied sometimes by violent street protests demanding the resignation of electoral chairwoman Jane Ansah. Late last year,the Malawi Human Rights Commission released a report accusing the police of committing serious human rights offences including rape and assault during a confrontation. This has lead to many international bodies,including the African Union and United Nations, to call for peace and calm ahead of the elections. Opposition leaders ,for instance,Former Vice president,Chilima, in the recent days has also urged Malawians to be peaceful.
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