Malawi’s Mutharika Slams Supreme Court

  • “The court did not follow the evidence and the law. To me it was a judicial coup d’etat,” said Mutharika on state radio on Friday.
  • In its May 8 ruling, the Court rejected the appeal by Mutharika and the Electoral Commission.
  • The repetition of the presidential election, initially scheduled for July 2, may be brought forward to June 23, at the suggestion of the electoral commission.

Malawi’s President, Peter Mutharika, has accused the country’s Supreme Court of having engineered what he describes as a “judicial coup d’état” on Friday. It was his first reaction to the court’s confirmation that his re-election as head of state last year wasn’t legitimate after all.

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.

On 8 May, the Malawi Supreme Court unanimously rejected the appeal by Mutharika, and the country’s Electoral Commission, against the Constitutional Court’s historic decision to annul the 2019 presidential election. The Court cited numerous instances of fraud and widespread irregularities.

This is the first time that a presidential election was annulled in a court of law since Malawi’s independence in 1964. In power since 2014, Peter Mutharika, 79, was declared re-elected by the country’s electoral commission in the first round last year. He was said to have defeated opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera, by a vote share of 38.5% to 35.4%.

The results were contested by the country’s top two opposition candidates, Chakwera and Saulos Chlima, who claimed that the irregularities affected more than 1.4 million of the 5.1 million votes cast. In February of this year, the Constitutional Court surprised many, following it’s move to render Mutharika’s victory null and void, and order for a fresh election to be held.

“People are Laughing at Malawi”

“The court did not follow the evidence and the law. To me it was a judicial coup d’etat,” said Mutharika on state radio on Friday. Mutharika added that the magistrates had simply decided to get rid of the government. Mutharika regretted that the court had annulled the scrutiny, guaranteeing that there was no manipulation, and that the irregularities did not influence the results.

“What has happened now is that they have set a standard that whenever there is an election and there is an irregularity, that election will be nullified. All over the world, people are laughing at Malawi… people are laughing at the judiciary in Malawi because what happened was totally ridiculous.”

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.

The Constitutional Court states, however, that it found “serious” and “widespread” irregularities during the elections, including the use of a liquidity broker in the minutes. In its May 8 ruling, the Court rejected the appeal by Mutharika and the Electoral Commission, considering that “some of the appeal’s arguments were not only fictitious but totally unprofessional, disrespectful and disgusting.”

The repetition of the presidential election, initially scheduled for July 2, may be brought forward to June 23, at the suggestion of the electoral commission. They argue that this will allow the results to be validated within the deadline. At issue is the 150-day deadline decreed by the Constitutional Court for the holding of the new elections.

President Mutharika is facing a stiff opposition from the country’s opposition chief, Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress party (MCP). Chakwera has since teamed up with Mutharika’s former Vice president, Saulos Chilima of the Democratic Progressive party (DPP). Chilima served as Malawi’s Vice-president during Mutharika’s first term in office.

Chakwera and Chilima were second and third, respectively, in the country’s presidential elections last year. Chilima has since dropped his bid for the presidency, at least for the moment, and he is Chakwera’s running mate in a coalition dubbed Tonse Alliance.

The new alliance brings together several of Malawi’s political parties, including the People’s Party, of the country’s former president, Joyce Banda.

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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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