Atlanta (MaraviPost): With The constitutional court in Malawi annulling last year’s disputed presidential election results, citing “widespread” irregularities and ordering a new vote, Peter Mutharika popularly known as APM or “ADadi” to cadets has been ruled irregular by the constitution.
The hastily called election last May supposedly returned Peter Mutharika to power, leading to deadly confrontations and widespread unrest in the country.
In the sometimes-rumbling ruling, which lasted close to 10 hours, a panel of five judges comprising ordered a fresh presidential election to be held within 150 days.
The 500-page ruling cited the widespread use of unauthorized correctional fluid, Tippex, to alter figures, the use of duplicate result sheets and unsigned results forms as cases that compromised the outcome of the elections.
“The position of this court is that the widespread use of Tippex greatly undermined the integrity of the elections so much that applying the qualitative approach, the argument by the second respondent (Malawi Electoral Commission) that the valid vote count was not affected and that no monitor came forward to raise a complaint does not matter and this argument is thrown out,” said Judge Healy Potani, the President Judge of the panel of five judges that presided over the case.
“The court’s final determination is that petitions to have the presidential election nullified met both the qualitative and quantitative tests of the court. The irregularities and anomalies were so widespread, systematic and grave that the integrity of the results was compromised.”
On his part, Chancellor College based political analyst, Dr Enerst Thindwa, said the pronouncement of the judgment on its own, in favour of the petitioners is a clear maturity of democracy.
“This simply shows that democracy has triumphed. And that shows that our democracy is maturing.
However, the five judges’ justices Healey Potani, Mike Tembo, Dingiswayo Madise, Ivy Kamanga and Redson Kapindu., who many see as partisans went beyond their Mandate, further ordering that the new elections be held under a majoritarian system, a legal provision which was rejected by the Malawi Parliament some two years ago, who instead opted for simple majority system?
The 2012 Malawian constitutional crisis occurred from April 5, 2012 – April 7, 2012 after senior members of the Democratic Progressive Party-led cabinet failed to notify the public of the death of the sitting president, Bingu wa Mutharika on April 5. Instead, cabinet ministers led by Peter Mutharika held a series of meetings in Lilongwe, Malawi without vice-president Joyce Banda with the aim of undermining the constitution and Banda’s succession to Presidency.
The News confirming his death had, however, quickly spread across the country (and to the Malawian diaspora) through word of mouth, cellphone text messages, Malawian bloggers, Twitter, Facebook, and on listservs by the end of the day on April 5, 2012. Therefore, the failure to announce his death resulted in speculation over the real health of the president and over whether the succession procedures would be followed as outlined in the constitution. According to the constitution, the vice-president takes over but there had been no official word on a successor or communication with the vice-president. Amidst growing speculation, the Cabinet announced that the president’s brother, Peter Mutharika, the foreign minister, was the new President of the party on April 6. The Cabinet only announced his death two days after his death, after which Banda became Malawi’s first female President handing Peter Mutharika his first failure on the constitution.
This included Midnight Six members Patricia Kaliati, Henry Mussa, and Kondwani Nankhumwa. It also included Peter Mutharika (President Mutharika’s brother), Goodall Gondwe, the Minister of Economic Development, and the Chief Secretary, Bright Msaka.
However, while there had been disputes over all past elections in Malawi, this is the first time a presidential vote result has been overturned in the country by a court suspected of partisan motives.