25 May 2014

Malawi: Joyce Banda - Saviour, Sinner or Something in Between?

Photo: European Union Election Observation Mission
Voters in a queue at Kanjedza School in Blantyre.

In a shock move, Malawi's President Joyce Banda tried to annul her country's elections this weekend, saying they were too flawed to be allowed to stand. Some saw this as the act of a wannabe tyrant; others noted Banda's pledge not to contest the new polls and concluded that she was making the best of a bad situation. The truth, as always, is probably a little more complicated than either view allows.

We were expecting this morning to tell you who had won, and lost, the Malawi elections, and hazard a few guesses as to what this might mean for the future of the country.

Instead, we're trying to figure out what's going on in a democracy that has done its level best this weekend to collapse in on itself, and take Malawi's future with it.

The chaos began on Saturday, when President Joyce Banda - who has already rescued Malawi once before, remember, from the clutches of Bingu wa Mutharika's budding autocracy - told the nation that she was riding to the rescue once again. Although she did not appear to have the constitutional authority to do so, she ordered the annulment of last week's poll...

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