Main points in verdict that overturned Malawi election win

2020-02-05 22:00

Malawi's Constitutional Court has unanimously quashed the 2019 presidential polls won by President Peter Mutharika, declaring he had been "unduly" elected.

It is only the second time in Africa, after Kenya in 2017, that a presidential election has been overturned.

Here are the main points from Monday's landmark ruling.

Tipp-Ex coverup 

The court castigated use of a correction fluid, commonly referred to by the brand name of Tipp-Ex, to falsify vote counts.

"There was massive use of Tipp-Ex to alter results on the tally sheets," it said.

The word "Tipp-Ex" appears 266 times in the 418-page judgement.

"The widespread use of Tipp-Ex and other manual alterations on the result tally sheet greatly undermined the integrity of the election," said the court.

"The irregularities and anomalies have been so widespread, systematic and grave such that the integrity of the results has been seriously compromised".

The court also noted that three-quarters of the results sheets were approved without any audit.

New elections ordered 

The court said in view of the irregularities, the president was "not duly elected" during the "invalid" May 21 vote.

It ordered the organisation of fresh elections within 150 days from the date of its judgement, which was issued on February 3. The countdown includes weekends and public holidays.

New election rules 

The court heavily criticised Malawi's current first-past-the-post electoral system for choosing a president.

It interpreted the constitutional provision of "majority of the electorate" as meaning that a candidate should be chosen by more than 50 percent of the ballots cast.

From now on, the "majority to be attained by a candidate to the office of president is a minimum of 50 percent plus one vote of the total valid votes cast during the presidential election".

If no one candidate attains the constitutional majority, a run-off will have to be organised.

Vice president reinstated

The court ruled that the status of the presidency, "including the status of the office of the Vice President, reverts to what it was prior to the declaration of the results of last year's election results".

It follows therefore that Saulos Chilima, the third runner-up in the presidential election with 20% of votes cast, returns to his post of vice president until the next elections.

Read more on:    peter mutharika  |  malawi  |  southern africa  |  malawi 2019 elections
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