Following an exhaustive review of petitions submitted by the opposition, judges of the Malawian Constitutional Court ruled against Peter Mutharika whose presidential victory last May was attributed to massive fraud.
Veteran diplomat Vernon Mwaanga of neighboring Zambia said the Court raised the bar for African countries where elections are plagued by irregularities.
“The Malawi judicial system has raised the bar of constitutionality and integrity on the African continent, which I hope will be emulated by other countries, including Zambia,” Mwaanga said.
“It has also shown how important it is for petitioners, who feel aggrieved by outcomes of presidential elections to be heard from beginning to end.”
The Court cited irregularities that included voting sheets covered in correction fluid and the failure of the Electoral Commission to audit the totals. “The irregularities and anomalies have been so widespread, systematic and grave such that the integrity of the results has been seriously compromised,” the opposition maintained in a claim supported by the court.
Miroslav Poche, chief of the EU observer mission for the Malawi elections, said that although the voting was generally peaceful, the playing field was not level.
“What we see as a problem is the abuse of state resources and also bias by state media.” The EU mission also bemoaned attacks on opposition politicians ahead of the voting.
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki, leader of the Commonwealth observer team, called the election was well-managed but that it was premature to declare it fair.
Ex-president Peter Mutharika, who was narrowly declared the winner of that election, vowed to appeal the court’s decision.
“Malawi may be a small country,” said Mwaanga, “but certainly they have now become standard bearers of constitutionalism and separation of powers between the Executive (and Judiciary). This will go down in the archives of African history.
SOURCE: Global Information Network