Despite Coronavirus, Malawi to Vote in Presidential Re-Run

  • The fresh presidential election is as a result of the annulment of the previous one.
  • For several months, Malawi— usually a peaceful country— was treated to opposition-led demonstrations on the streets.
  • Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, both Mutharika and Chakwera have actively been participating in several campaign rallies across the country.

Despite the Coronavirus pandemic, it is all systems go in Malawi as the country is scheduled to hold a new presidential election tomorrow. The European Union has released a statement imploring the nation’s electoral body, political parties, candidates, and Malawians in general to create conditions for a credible, inclusive, transparent and peaceful election.

General elections were held in Malawi on 21 May 2019 to elect the President, National Assembly and local government councillors. Incumbent President Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party was re-elected, with his party remaining the largest in the National Assembly. However, on 3 February 2020, the Constitutional Court annulled the presidential election results due to evidence of irregularities, and ordered fresh elections be held.

The fresh presidential election is as a result of the annulment of the previous one, due to the massive fraud that was detected in Malawi’s previous general elections last year. Sitting president, Peter Mutharika, was controversially deemed reelected. Malawi, situated on the south-eastern part of the African continent, is the second country on the entire Sub-saharan African continent to cancel presidential elections. 

The first one was Kenya, in 2017 ,when the senior most justice on the Supreme Court, David Maraga, nullified the re-election of the country’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta. Maraga also cited massive cases of irregularities that affected the integrity of the polls.

The chief justice went ahead to order for a fresh presidential election, in which Kenyatta ran unopposed. The opposition refused to participate after citing an unleveled playing field.

Malawi’s presidential election tomorrow has two main candidates: Mutharika, aged 79 and in power since 2014, and rival Lazarus Chakwera, aged 65. The third candidate, Peter Kuwani, has little chance of getting in the way of Mutharika and Chakwera’s stiff competition.

The Electoral Commission proclaimed Mutharika the winner of the May 21, 2019 elections. His declared 38.57% of the vote was almost 160,000 more than those obtained by Chakwera, with 35.41%.

However, Chakwera and other candidates considered the results to be fraudulent, pointing out irregularities in numerous ballot papers. Many Malawians urgue that Chakwera actually won the elections, but his victory was snatched by the Mutharika-led administration’s state organs.

Nationwide Demonstrations

Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera is a Malawian politician who is the current President of the Malawi Congress Party, in office since 2013. He is the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly following highly controversial elections held in Malawi on 21 May 2019, which he and other opposition figures are disputing in court and they want the elections to be rerun.

For several months, Malawi— usually a peaceful country— was treated to opposition-led demonstrations on the streets. Cases of violence were reported as law enforcement agencies clashed with the demonstrators.

To the general surprise of many, the country’s judges in February nullified Mutharika’s re-election, confirming “widespread and systematic irregularities” in the poll.

Following the ruling, an angry Mutharika denounced “a judicial coup d’état,” and went ahead to appeal the court’s decision. However, the court threw out his appeal, confirming the need for a fresh election in the tiny southern African state. 

Campaigns Despite COVID-19

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, both Mutharika and Chakwera have actively been participating in several campaign rallies across the country.

More than 600 cases of Covid-19 and eight deaths have so far been identified in Malawi, one of the poorest countries on the planet. According to the World Bank estimates, more than half of its 17 million inhabitants live below the poverty line.

In April, thousands of citizens, who survive from daily business and informal commerce, took to the streets to oppose the confinement decreed by Peter Mutharika to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.The judicial system decided to suspend the presidential order indefinitely, on the grounds that it did not provide any help to those deprived of their income.

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Vincent Ferdinand

News reporting is my thing. My view of what is happening in our world is colored by my love of history and how the past influences events taking place in the present time.  I like reading politics and writing articles. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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