Malawi president appeals against nullifying his election

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Malawian President Peter Mutharika on Friday filed an appeal against a top court decision that overturned his 2019 election victory, documents showed. Malawi made history on Monday when the top court ruled in favour of an opposition bid to cancel last May’s presidential election results over allegations of rigging.

In his appeal papers, Mutharika said the judges had “erred in law” in concluding that his re-election was “undue” and he asked the Supreme Court to reverse the judgment which also ordered new elections. After six months of marathon hearings broadcast on public radio, the judges had declared Mutharika was “not duly elected” over what it called widespread irregularities, including “massive” use of correction fluid on ballot papers.

It was only the second time that a presidential election has been cancelled by a court in sub-Saharan Africa, after Kenya in 2017. But Mutharika, 79, said the judges’ findings were “grossly biased” against him and a “miscarriage of justice”. Lazarus Chakwera, the leader of the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP), who came a close second to Mutharika, complained that he was robbed of victory. Mutharika was declared the winner of the May 21 election with 38.5 per cent of the vote, with Chakwera losing by just 159,000 votes. The allegations of vote-rigging sparked protests across the normally peaceful southern African country last year shortly after results were announced. Several of the demonstrations turned violent. It is the first time a presidential election has been challenged on legal grounds in Malawi since independence from Britain in 1964.