Malawi court to hear president's appeal against vote annulment

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Peter Mutharika will remain president until the new election, the court ruled in its judgement overturning the 2019 May polls. (Riccardo Savi/Getty Images).
Peter Mutharika will remain president until the new election, the court ruled in its judgement overturning the 2019 May polls. (Riccardo Savi/Getty Images).

Malawi's Supreme Court will hear next month an appeal by President Peter Mutharika against a ruling that annulled his May 2019 re-election, an official said on Monday.

In February, the Constitutional Court nullified results that saw Mutharika narrowly re-elected, citing widespread irregularities, in particular the "massive" use of correction fluid on tally sheets.

The ruling was issued with an order for officials to hold a new presidential election within 150 days.

Allegations of vote-rigging following the May 2019 poll sparked protests across the normally peaceful southern African country, and violence erupted at several demonstrations.

On Monday, spokeswoman Agnes Patemba told AFP that an appeal lodged by Mutharika and the electoral commission would be heard for two weeks from mid April.

"Seven Supreme Court justices will convene to hear the appeal .... on April 15," she said.

On Sunday, two protest organisers were arrested for threatening more demonstrations if Mutharika did not sign laws to allow for fresh polls.

Gift Trapence and MacDonald Sembereka, leaders of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition, were accused of unlawfully mobilising people after they called for state residences - presidential homes spread across the country - to be shut down.

Mutharika had warned them to stop organising protests shortly before they were arrested.

"Be warned, your time is up, the party is over, get up and smell the coffee," Mutharika said during a rally by supporters.

Opposition figure Timothy Mtambo, who police say is on the run, had warned that five million people could be mobilised to shut down all state residences.

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