The Malawi Constitutional Court has annulled 2019 disputed presidential elections over what it described as “widespread” irregularities.

The court has also ordered a fresh presidential election to be held in 150 days.

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The May 2019 poll saw return of the sitting president Arthur Peter Mutharika to power, leading to deadly confrontations and widespread unrest.

The panel of five judges, in a ruling lasting 10 hours cited the widespread use of unauthorised correctional fluid, Tippex, to change figures, the use of duplicate result sheets and unsigned results forms as cases that compromised the outcome of the elections.

The court admonished the electoral body saying the manner in which the May 21 presidential election was held demonstrated incompetency and infringed on citizens’ constitutional rights.

“The position of this court is that the widespread use of Tippex greatly undermined the integrity of the elections so much that applying the qualitative approach, the argument by the second respondent (Malawi Electoral Commission) that the valid vote count was not affected and that no monitor came forward to raise a complaint does not matter and this argument is thrown out”, the ruling stated.

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) had declared President Peter Mutharika the narrow winner of the May election with 38 percent of votes, followed by Lazarus Chakwera with 35 percent and former Vice President Saulos Chilima third with 20 percent.

The four other candidates collectively got nearly 6 percent.

The two contenders petitioned the court to have the results nullified citing several irregularities.

Malawi is the second country in sub-Saharan Africa to see its election results annulled, after Kenya’s Supreme Court in 2017 overturned the result of a presidential vote.

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