Mutharika nominates ex-president’s son as running mate ahead of July 2 Malawi rerun

Malawi’s Supreme Court on Friday upheld the earlier court ruling by the Constitutional Court that annulled President Mutharika’s election victory. He has now nominated Atupele Muluzi as his running mate. He is the son of former President Bakili Muluzi.
Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika looks on during the official launch of his Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) manifesto and election campaign on April 7, 2019, at Kamuzu Institute for Sports in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe, ahead of next month’s elections where he will seek a second and final term in office. – Mutharika, who has been in power since 2014, will face tough opposition, including from his own deputy Saulos Chilima, at the May 21 election. (Photo by AMOS GUMULIRA / AFP)

Malawian President, Peter Mutharika has joined forces with a former president’s son, Atupele Muluzi ahead of the July 2 presidential rerun after the previous election that he narrowly won in disputed circumstances last year was annulled by the Supreme Court.

The Constitutional Court had annulled the May 21 vote and called for fresh polls, citing “widespread, systematic and grave” irregularities.

Malawi’s Supreme Court on Friday also upheld the earlier court ruling that annulled President Mutharika’s election victory.

Mutharika, 79, filed his nomination papers on Thursday for the July 2 rerun alongside his new running mate, Muluzi, the 41-year old son of ex-president Bakili Muluzi, who ruled Malawi from 1994 to 1999.

Atupele Muluzi served as health minister during Mutharika’s first term and contested last year’s presidential election, coming in a distant fourth.

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“Together we will be the bridge to the future, together we will win this election,” the president told supporters in the second city of Blantyre, an AFP Report said.

Crowds of people in the two parties’ blue and yellow colours thronged the streets, ignoring an anti-coronavirus ban on public gatherings of more than 50.

“We won that (May 21) election,” Mutharika said. “This election is not the will of the people.”

“Therefore, I call upon all Malawians to come out and vote in this election to express the will of the people.”

Only three of 10 expected candidates have presented credentials to run in the upcoming poll.

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Opposition figures Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima filed their nomination papers on Wednesday.

Mutharika was declared winner of the disputed elections with 38.5 percent of the vote.

Chakwera’s Malawi Congress Party came a close second, garnering 35 percent, while Chilima’s United Transformation Movement came third with 20 percent.

Those two parties have joined forces under Chakwera’s banner to maximise their chances of unseating the president.

The third candidate is Peter Kuwani, whose party only racked up 0.4 percent of the vote last May.

It is the first time a presidential election has been challenged on legal grounds in Malawi since independence from Britain in 1964.

Mutharika has denounced the landmark ruling as a “serious miscarriage of justice” and an “attack on the foundations of the country’s democracy”. 

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He has also refused assent to the proposed electoral law amendments, notably one that requires a more than 50 percent majority to secure a win.

Both the president and the electoral commission had appealed against the election annulment but lost on Friday.

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