Malawi: Chakwera Blasts International Election Observers As Malawi Court Found Widespread Irregularities

Ballot box.
5 February 2020

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera has accused international observers for declaring May last year's presidential election credible, yet the Constitutional Court has found "widespread, systematic and grave" irregularities including significant use of correction fluid - Tipp-ex- to alter the outcome.

Chakwera greets thousands upon thousands of MCP followers at party headquarters in Lilongwe during victory celebration

The international election observers including European Union (EU), Commonwealth, Sadc and African Union (AU) had declared that Malawi elections were conducted in a free, fair and transparent manner and rushed to endorse President Peter Mutharika's re-election even while the opposition was challenging the result.

But Chakwera said the Constitutional Court ruling to annul the polls raised awkward questions about the foreign election observers.

Now, in the aftermath of the Constitution Court ruling, those declarations seem premature and utterly wrong.

Speaking to thousands upon thousands of party supporters at MCP headquarters in Lilongwe during a victory celebration for Monday's court ruling, Chakwera Many faulted the foreign observers and governments for endorsing the election so swiftly.

"I have no issues with them, but I have issues with particular folks that they would just write reports about how this has gone right whether they are from [Southern Africa Development Community} Sadc, Europe or America.

"These elections were marred by so many irregularities and constitutional laws were deliberately disobeyed and yet some people in this country had reason t even go to United Nations (UN) and say that they won fair and square and even calling me a terrorist... when all we were seeking was justice," said Chakwera.

Many commentators also called for a re-examination of the role of the election's international observers, who put the country's stability ahead of the election's credibility.

They argued that the observers did not do their work properly as they needed to do a lot of background checks on the electoral system of Malawi before making the final conclusion.

"We no longer need international election observers, They are useless," a social-political commentator Stanley Onjezani Kenani wrote on Facebook.

In their ruling, the five-judge panel of the High Court of Malawi accused the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) of failing to carry out its constitutional duties, negligence and abdication of the same.

The panel, comprising Healey Potani, Redson Kapindu, Ivy Kamanga, Mike Tembo and Dingiswayo Madise, said MEC failed in all constitutional tests it set out on the elections and that the irregularities were so glaring that the credibility of the election was in question.

"In every election there will be irregularities but in the present matter, it has been our finding that the irregularities were so widespread, systematic and grave that the results of the elections have been compromised and cannot be trusted as a reflection of the votes," Healy Potani, the head of the panel of five judges, said.

The court called for a new ballot within 150 days.

While the new election may be risky, the court ruling is being praised as a breakthrough for democracy and the rule of law in a region where vote-rigging has been common in the past.

More From: Nyasa Times

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