International media including top brands BBC, Economist, Financial Times and commentators across the world have praised the Malawi Constitutional Court decision to annul last year’s presidential poll as a hard-fought victory for the rule of law, and sign of a maturing democracy.
Pointing to widespread irregularities the five-panel of judges declared President Peter Mutharika’s victory invalid, null and void.
The Financial Times of UK headlined its Instant Insight opinion column ” Malawi court decision is a victory for African democracy”, while the BBC went with ” Malawi election: What the annulment means for democracy across Africa,” and The Economist wrote: ‘A historic day for Malawi’s democracy.’
In the Financial Times, it reported that “In an era when electoral integrity is under threat even in established democracies, the members of Malawi’s constitutional court stand out for their bravery. The pressure on them to rubber stamp an election that was marred by gross irregularities — including liberal use of white correction fluid on voting tallies — was enormous.”
The Economist reported that there many ways to rig an election., saying “ voters can be beaten or bribed. Ballot boxes can be stuffed. Computers tallying results can be hacked. But few methods are more rudimentary than that used last year in Malawi’s general election. In the southern African country of 18m people the dastardly tool was Tipp-Ex, the correction fluid that has saved many a teenager’s error-strewn homework.”
In a 10-hour judgment, read out to a court in Lilongwe, the capital, Healy Potani, head of the five-judge panel, said: “It has been our finding that the irregularities were so widespread, systematic and grave that the results of the elections have been compromised and cannot be trusted as a reflection of the votes”.
In its report BBC highlighted that Malawi now has under five months to organise and fund new elections, change its electoral law, overhaul its electoral commission, and maintain public order at a time of heightened political tensions.
“That is a tall order for any country. There is no guarantee that one sharp judicial intervention will necessarily nudge Malawi on to the right path,” reports the BBC.
BBC tips opposition parties that “sustained success requires difficult compromises, patient coalition-building, solid policy platforms, and a willingness to reach beyond narrow ethnic or regional strongholds.”