President Peter Mutharika and the electoral commission of Malawi have formally filed an appeal against a court ruling that nullified 2019 election results, reported Reuters.
Mutharika was declared as the winner after he got 38.5% of the vote. Opposition party leader Lazarus Chakwera came second with 35.41% vote share. Chakwera petitioned the court to have the results nullified, alleging several irregularities.
On Monday, the Constitutional Court annulled the vote held in May that brought Mutharika back to power as president. The court cited widespread and grave irregularities in the election, which included the 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.
“I can confirm that the court has received both appeals by first respondent (the president) and second respondent (electoral commission),” High Court Registrar Agnes Patemba confirmed to Reuters on Friday.
President Peter Mutharika had denounced the court’s ruling as “a serious subversion of justice, an attack on our democratic systems and an attempt to undermine the will of the people”.
In his appeal papers, the 79-year-old Mutharika said the judges had “erred in law” in concluding that his re-election as the president was undue. He also asked the Supreme Court to reverse the judgment that called for fresh elections.
In a statement, Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Chairperson Jane Ansah, who supports Mutharika’s appeal, said the constitutional court overstepped its powers by ordering parliament to convene within 21 days to amend the Electoral Act. The election commission argues that the court’s judgment was based on several issues that were not raised in the original petitions by opposition leader Chakwera and estranged Vice President Saulos Chilima.
Notably, this is the first time a presidential election has been challenged on legal grounds in Malawi since independence from Britain in 1964.