Opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera, who overturned the results of Malawi’s presidential elections in a landmark legal case, says he is confident that next week’s re-run will be credible and set the impoverished southern African nation on a new democratic course
Lilongwe, Malawi, (APP – UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – 17th Jun, 2020 ) :Opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera, who overturned the results of Malawi‘s presidential elections in a landmark legal case, says he is confident that next week’s re-run will be credible and set the impoverished southern African nation on a new democratic course.
“Malawians must be respected, their rights must be respected. It is not a matter of who counts the votes, it should be a matter of every vote counting,” he said.
Citing “grave”, “widespread” and “systematic” irregularities, the Constitutional Court in February ruled that the integrity of the results had “been seriously compromised.” It overturned President Peter Mutharika’s re-election and ordered a new vote within 150 days.
The country of 18 million people will stage the re-run next Tuesday.
“For me personally it’s been a quest for justice and I believe that we have been vindicated by the courts,” said Chakwera.
“The independence of the judiciary has really raised the bar for African elections to be done in such a way that everyone can see the integrity of such a vote, the credibility of such a vote, and I believe its lesson to the rest of the world, that issues of people’s rights must be respected,” he said.
Chakwera’s MCP was once led by ex-president Kamuzu Banda, who ruled Malawi for 30 years until losing power in the first multi-party polls in 1994.
This time around the MCP president leads a nine-party alliance.
– New commission – Mutharika’s election victory last year spawned tensions and sparked widespread, months-long protests that saw the military intervene as confrontations between police and protesters turned violent.
The protesters demanded the removal of the then-electoral commission chief Jane Ansah who eventually stepped down last month.
Chakwera is optimistic about the new commission.
“This time around we have more confidence that this election will be treated with the integrity it deserves,” he said.
Mutharika’s efforts to limit the spread of the virus were torpedoed when a court ruled that he could not impose a full lockdown because he had failed to announce any measures to cushion the vulnerable.
Chakwera slammed Mutharika’s response to the pandemic.
“Even COVID-19 funds that have come in, have been abused,” he charged, without giving details.
Tens of thousands of people have turned up for campaign rallies in blatant defiance of restrictions of large crowds, and health experts fear an explosion of infections in a country with a weak health system.
“People are saying, let’s settle the political question and then we can together look at this pandemic and how best to fight it,” said Chakwera.