The High Court sitting as the Constitutional Court in Lilongwe has annulled last year’s presidential elections results citing enormous irregularities in a landmark elections dispute ruling.
The ruling was read by President Judge Healy Potani and Judge Ivy Kamanga in a period spanning 11 hours has ordered fresh elections in 150 days.
“The new elections will be held using the 50 plus 1 majority method,” reads the judgement.
This effectively endorses the position of MCP President Lazarus Chakwera and UTM President Saulosi Chilima that President Peter Mutharika was dubiously elected.
The landmark ruling by a panel of five judges – including Judge Potani, Judge Kamanga, Judge Redson Kapindu, Judge Mike Tembo and Judge Dingiswayo Madise – comes after 8 straight months of a protracted legal battle challenging Mutharika’s victory.
Making a unanimous decision, the judges decided to annul the elections, thereby placing the responsibility to hold fresh elections in three months period.
The decision is the second after the 2017 Kenya’s decision to annul election results citing anomalies.
Chakwera and Chilima had challenged the vote outcome in court citing irregularities include use of correction fluid, tippex on signed tally sheets and some arithmetical errors.
However, the country’s electoral body, MEC, and president-elect Mutharika argued that the polls were held in line with the county’s laws.
According the 2019 results, Mutharika led by 38.6%, Chakwera came second with 35.4% and Chilima came distant third with a vote share of 20.2%.
Reading the judgement, Judge Potani stated that the electoral process spans registration, voting and announcement of results.
“All the processes must be done properly. If any one of the set processes is not complied with, then the processes is tainted,” read Judge Potani read.
In the case, the court defined an irregularity in an election as non-compliance with the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act.
With regards to the Electoral Commission failed in its role in handling complaints related to the elections, other processes of decision-making and administrative processes such as filing minutes of meetings on whatever transpires in relation to the elections.
The court heard that in the case, the Electoral Commission fielded an incompetent witness in the Chief Elections Officer.
“The delegation was unreasonable, absurd and unconstitutional,” read Judge Kamanga.
Reading the second part of a summarized 500-paged ruling in the afternoon session, Judge Ivy Kamanga also said the Electoral Commission failed to act as a tribunal.
“As a quasi court, the Electoral Commission failed to mediate and resolve quarries raised by parties,” she added.
Lack of some presiding officers’ signatures and missing information in the log books affected the integrity of the elections.
The court also observed that MEC went ahead to announce results from 5, 002 when only results from 3,867 polling stations were not audited.