Malawi to Hold Fresh Presidential Elections

A panel of Five  High Court Judges sitting at the Constitutional Court has nullified the 2019 presidential election results  and ordered a fresh election within 150 days, on grounds of serious irregularities.

The panel, comprising of Judges Healy Potani, RedsonKapindu, Mike Tembo, Ivy Kamanga and Dingiswayo Madise delivered the landmark ruling Monday in Lilongwe.

In addition, the Court has ruled that the Parliament should clarify the laws to ensure that a President is elected with over 50 per cent of the total vote, to reflect a true majority.

Reading a summary of ruling in the  late evening, High Court    President  Judge, Healy Potani, who chaired the panel, said though it is almost impossible to have an election free of irregularities, the irregularities that marred last year’s elections are so ‘wide-spread, systematic and grave so that they compromised the integrity of the results’.

“In view of the findings, we are satisfied and hold that the first respondent was not duly elected. We therefore order the nullification of the results and that a fresh election be conducted within 150 days,” HE read.

The court has ordered that in line with the order, the status of the presidency and the vice presidency is as it was before the polls.

This means that incumbent president Arthur Peter Mutharika will remain president while Saulos Chilima of the UTM will return as Vice President until the fresh election is conducted.

In addition, the Court ruled that Parliament should put in place administrative measures that will ensure that the winner of the fresh election will be in office for the constitutionally provided 5 years.

“Parliament should ensure the certainty in the dates and time that the constitution provides for elections. They should put in place administrative measures that will ensure that the next presidential and Parliamentary elections will be conducted at the same time in 2025” read the judgement.

Speaking to the Media after the reading of the judgement, Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) lawyer, Attorney General KalekeniKaphale said he will need to discuss the outcome with the client (MEC) and map the way forward.

‘We expected the ruling to go either ways. For now, we will go back and discuss with our clients (MEC) and map the way forward,” he said.

Asked if the electoral body will consider appealing the judgment, Kaphale said that is one of the things he will have to discuss with the clients.

On his part, UTM’s Saulos Chilima, who was first petitioner in the case, said he was happy that justice had prevailed.

‘We are happy. This is what we were looking for. We came here seeking justice and this is what the courts have determined. We will do our best to do what the court has said,’ he said.

Second petitioner Lazarus Chakwera and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Secretary General,Grezelda Jeffrey were not immediately available for comments.

However lawyer for Chakwera Mordechai Msisha (sc) said his team was happy with the ruling, and commended Chakwera’s witnesses for a good job.

‘We commend the good work that our witnesses did in coming up with the evidence that has helped us to get this judgment,” Msisha said.

UTM’s candidate Saulos Chilima and Malawi Congress Party’s Lazarus Chakwera petitioned the court to nullify the May 21 2019 election in which the Malawi Electoral Commission declared Democratic Progressive Party’s Arthur Peter Mutharika as the winner.

The case had run from August 8 to December 20 2019. –By Morton Sibale