Malawi votes in closely watched presidential re-run - GulfToday

Malawi votes in closely watched presidential re-run

Malawi votes

A voter getting the finger inked as Malawi votes.AP

Malawian voters defied the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday to return to the polls for the second time in just over a year after President Peter Mutharika's re-election was annulled in a dramatic court ruling.

The hotly-anticipated re-run was ordered by the Constitutional Court, which declared that the May 2019 vote, narrowly won by Mutharika, was fraught with "grave and widespread irregularities" including the use of correction fluid on results sheets.

It ordered new elections be held within 150 days of its February ruling.

The new polling deadline coincided with the coronavirus pandemic raging across world, but that did not deter candidates who staged rallies attracting tens of thousands of supporters across the country.

The landmark verdict reverberated across African politics, for it made Malawi just the second country south of the Sahara to have presidential poll results set aside, after Kenya in 2017.


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"I am happy because this re-run is the will of the people. And with this vote, I just hope that the best person wins. The will of the people will triumph," said Peter Chadza, 26, a businessman who arrived an hour-and-a-half before voting was due to start in the capital.

Tuesday's election is practically a two-horse race between the president and his main rival Lazarus Chakwera, who lost the election by 159,000 votes.

Mutharika, who turns 80 next month, won with 38.5 percent of the ballots against Chakwera's 35 percent, according to the now-discredited results.

This time, a candidate will have to garner more than 50 percent of the votes to be declared the winner -- a new threshold welcomed by the Public Affairs Committee, an influential quasi-religious civic group.

"This election is unique. First, this election is born out of a court ruling and second, they will follow the 50-percent-plus-one system," the group said in a statement.

Agence Francce-Presse

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