Malawians votes in historic repeat elections

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    TODAY, Malawians are voting in a historic election three months after the Constitutional Court annulled results of the 2019 vote saying they showed “grave,” “widespread” and “systematic” irregularities.

    Malawi is repeating its presidential elections after months of protests.

    Today will be a memorable day for the people of Malawi. For the first time in the history of the small, Southern African country, the presidential elections will be repeated following the annulment of last year’s poll results.

    Crucially, the 2020 presidential election differs from last year’s vote in that winner now needs to secure an absolute majority of 50% plus one vote, instead of being a first-past-post the system.

    This makes alliances even more important.

    Today’s polls pit incumbent President Peter Mutharika against Lazarus Chakwera, who has the support of an opposition coalition, including the Malawi Congress Party and the United Transformation Movement. A third hopeful is little-known Peter Kuwani of the Mbakuwaku Movement for Development.

    In May 2019, Mutharika thought he was the victor by a slim margin when he gained 38.6% of the vote ahead of Chakwera with 35% and Vice President Saulos Chilima with 20%.

    However, Malawi’s Constitutional Court annulled those results in February 2020, ruling that the 2019 vote showed “grave,” “widespread” and “systematic” irregularities. This included tally sheets being daubed with correction fluid.

    The court ordered a new vote to take place within 150 days.

    The Supreme Court subsequently upheld the Constitutional Court ruling, dismissing an appeal by the president and paving the way for Tuesday’s polls.

    In delivering the verdict in May, Justice Frank Kapanda said the Supreme Court found the irregularities in the election “were not only serious but also troubling.” The court also found that some of the 137 grounds in Mutharika’s appeal were fictitious and embarrassing.

    ©Kalemba June 23, 2020

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