Malawi Constitutional Court has nullified the results of last year’s presidential election, citing “widespread, systematic and grave” irregularities including significant use of correction fluid to alter the outcome.
Malawi becomes the second African country in 3 years to have presidential election results nullified. This follows in the footsteps of Kenya where presidential elections were nullified in 2017 by the country’s Supreme Court.
The two leading opposition candidates had challenged the narrow election win of President Peter Mutharika, alleging that irregularities affected over 1.4 million of the total 5.1 million votes cast.
Months of sometimes deadly unrest followed the announcement of the election results. The president and electoral commission acknowledged some irregularities but argued they were insufficient to affect the election’s outcome.
The court listened as multiple irregularities were cited; from the liberal use of the correction fluid Tipp-Ex to the lack of signatures on some results forms. The judges even challenged the electoral system, saying the results suggested that no one was elected by a majority in accord with the Constitution, citing dictionary definitions of majority and plurality. It suggested that Malawi’s Elections Act be amended.
The five-judge panel heard arguments that the vote was rigged by the president and the electoral commission. Mutharika and the electoral commission acknowledged some irregularities but argued they were insufficient to affect the election’s outcome.