March 23, 2020 / 2:53 PM / 15 days ago

Malawi to hold another presidential election in July

BLANTYRE (Reuters) - Malawi will hold a presidential election in July after the 2019 vote that declared Peter Mutharika the winner was annulled and a re-run ordered, the chairperson of the electoral commission said on Monday.

The Constitutional Court last month annulled Mutharika’s victory in the May 2019 election, ordering a re-run within 150 days after opposition parties said there were irregularities in the vote.

Malawians will return to the polls on July 2, in compliance with the Constitutional Court ruling, said electoral commission chairperson Jane Ansah.

Mutharika, Malawi’s president since 2014, won the election with a 38.57% share of the vote, opposition party leader Lazarus Chakwera earned 35.41% of votes and Deputy President Saulos Chilima, who formed his own party, 20.24%.

Ansah said the commission had scrapped the use of constituency tally centres during vote counting and would revert to district centres in line with the court ruling

In its ruling, the five-member judges panel of the High Court sitting as the Constitutional Court faulted the use of constituency tally centres, describing them as an illegal arrangement.

Ansah said the coronavirus outbreak had put the electoral commission on high alert, but would not affect the electoral calendar. Malawi has no confirmed cases of the virus.

“There will be masks, gloves, water and hand sanitizers for use in all places. And there will be strict observance of distances between individuals as well as gatherings of less than 100 people during meetings,” Ansah said.

Reporting by Frank Phiri,; Editing by Tanisha Heiberg and Ed Osmond

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