Malawi will hold an unprecedented rerun of its presidential elections today following the annulment of last year’s poll results.
The May 2019 results in favour of incumbent President Peter Mutharika were ruled invalid after Malawi’s Constitutional Court determined that the vote showed “widespread,” “grave” and “systematic” irregularities, including results sheets marked with corrective fluid. Malawi thus became the second country in sub-Saharan Africa to ever annul presidential poll results, a success for protesters who had demanded that the country’s elections law be upheld.
Mutharika is challenged by opponent Lazarus Chakwera, who holds the support of a coalition including the United Transformation Movement and the Malawi Congress Party. This year, the winner of the election is required to secure an absolute majority of at least 50% plus one vote, rather than last year’s “first-past-the-post” system. Chakwera’s advantage through coalition support may be enough to eke out a victory over Mutharika this time; he lost last year by only 159,000 votes, constituting about 3% of the overall votes cast.
A smooth rerun of the elections would prove a victory for the nation’s nascent civil society, mollifying Malawians whose ongoing protesting has already pushed Malawi Electoral Commission Chairwoman Jane Ansah to resign.
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Fina analyses global economic and political events for the Current Developments Team with a research focus on East Asia. She contributes regularly to the Daily Brief as an analyst and editor.