Malawi President Peter Mutharika on Wednesday confirmed he plans to contest a court ruling that overturned his victory in the May 2019 election, reported Reuters.
Mr. Mutharika won the election with a 38.5% share of the vote, while his main rival and opposition party leader Lazarus Chakwera stood second with 35.41% vote share. The top two contenders petitioned the court to have the results nullified, alleging several irregularities.
On Monday, the Constitutional Court of Malawi nullified the May 2019 presidential election results citing large-scale vote manipulation.
“The irregularities and anomalies have been so widespread, systematic and grave … that the integrity of the results has been seriously compromised,” the constitutional court judges wrote in their unanimous ruling,
The court’s panel of five judges issued a 500-page ruling that detailed a raft of irregularities, including use of correctional fluid to change figures, duplicate result sheets, and unsigned tally forms. It ordered a re-run, and called for fresh elections within 150 days, triggering widespread celebrations by opposition supporters. Mutharika will remain president until the new election.
The court also directed Malawi’s parliament to consider recalling the current electoral commission to “ensure the smooth conduct of fresh elections.”
Presidential spokesman Mgeme Kalirani said the office had assembled papers for to pursue a legal challenge against the court’s ruling.
“The ruling … cannot be allowed to stand,” Kalirani said in a statement. “It will create a lot of problems in the country’s jurisprudence.”
Kalirani described the ruling as a serious miscarriage of justice and an attack on the foundations of the country’s democracy and said that the president would appeal. However, He did not say when Mutharika would bring the challenge. The 79-year-old president can appeal against the ruling within six weeks.
Malawi is the second African nation to nullify presidential election results and call for a rerun. In 2017, Kenya annulled elections there and ordered fresh polls on similar grounds of manipulation.