Malawi's electoral commission appeals ruling nullifying vote

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BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) — Malawi’s president and electoral commission on Friday filed appeals against this week’s court ruling that nullified last year’s presidential election and ordered a new vote within 150 days because of widespread irregularities.

President Peter Mutharika earlier this week indicated he would appeal the ruling in favor of the two leading opposition candidates. He called it a “serious miscarriage of justice and attempt to circumvent democracy and the will of the people.”

Agnes Patemba, the registrar for the High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal, confirmed to The Associated Press that she had received the appeals by Mutharika and the electoral commission.

It was just the second time a presidential election in Africa has been overturned by the courts, following the one in Kenya in 2017.

The date of the new election depends on a meeting of parliament that begins Monday.

The appeal filed by Malawi's electoral commission, seen by the AP, argues that the judges erred in almost all their findings against the electoral body.

The new filing asks that Monday's ruling be set aside. A sworn statement by commission chairwoman Jane Ansah who supports the appeal, says the Constitutional Court overstepped its powers by ordering parliament to convene within 21 days to amend the Electoral Act.

Ansah's statement also asserts that the budget for a new election is estimated at $60 million, and she argued that a lot of money could be wasted unless enforcement of the court's judgment is suspended.

She indicated that a new election could be possible by Oct. 28 instead.

Ansah also faulted the court’s order that parliament look into the competence and conduct of electoral commissioners and staff, saying the court has already criticized their conduct.

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