Africa

Malawi election annulment challenged

Sapa-AFP, Reuters

Malawi's electoral body says President Joyce Banda has no power to scrap elections, while her main political rival says the decision is "illegal".

Incumbent Malawian President Joyce Banda votes in her home district of Malemia during May 20 elections. (Reuters)

The head of Malawi’s electoral authority on Saturday challenged President Joyce Banda’s announcement annulling the country’s elections, saying she did not have the power to do this and that vote counting was continuing.

“As far as I know, the President doesn’t have any Constitutional powers to nullify the election, only the electoral commission has the powers to do so,” Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairman Maxon Mbendera told Reuters.

Malawi’s opposition leader Peter Mutharika said the move by Banda was “illegal”.

“Nothing in the constitution gives the president powers to cancel an election,” said Mutharika, who partial results showed was well ahead of Banda in the polls. “This is clearly illegal, unconstitutional and not acceptable.”

Fresh vote
Banda on Saturday declared the chaotic May 20 election “null and void” and called for a fresh vote in which she said she would not stand to “give Malawians a free and fair” choice.

The president alleged people had voted multiple times and ballots had been tampered with, while her supporters alleged Mutharika may be behind the irregularities.

Mutharika rejected the charge, telling reporters the “people have spoken and this was a free and credible election.” “Allegations of rigging are not founded. I have never heard anywhere in the world where an opposition can rig an election,” he said.

“I hope the president abandons the path she has taken,” Mutharika said. “As citizens we should not take this country on the path of destruction and everyone should remain calm until results are announced.”

“Whoever has won should take over the government and start the process of rebuilding the country.” –Reuters, Sapa-AFP

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