Akufo Addo (L); John Mahama (R)
On May 2019, the incumbent President, Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) defeated the largest opposition leader, Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) in the presidential election by 39% to 35%.
The Malawi Electoral Commission after the polls, declared the incumbent president, Peter Mutharika president-elect, but the largest opposition leader, Lazarus Chakwera and his party, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) rejected the results citing alteration of election results and other electoral irregularities.
The opposition candidates Lazarus Chakwera, who came second with 35% votes and Saulos Chilima, of the United Transformation Movement who finished third with 20% votes went to court to argue that, the election was full of irregularities.
In court, lawyers for the losing candidates argued that correction fluid had been used on some of the tallying forms sent in by polling stations.
The changes according to the lawyers, were made after they had been signed by party agents. The lawyers also said that in some cases polling officials sent in the wrong copy of the results sheet to the main tallying centre.
They also found some mathematical errors in a some number of cases. The court proceedings, which lasted more than three months, were keenly followed as it was broadcast live on various media stations.
At the end of the legal battle, the Constitutional Court of Malawi found the original ballot had been marred by widespread irregularities.The Court therefore ruled in favour of the two opposition candidates Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima and orders a re-run of the 2019 general election.
The court orders the re-run to be held within 150 days after the verdict. Interestingly after few weeks of electoral campaign among the various political parties, the election was held and the largest opposition leader, Lazarus Chakwera managed to overturned the earlier result by beating the incumbent president, Peter Mutharika with 59.34% votes to 39.92% votes.
This was a historic moment in Malawi’s democratic dispensations. Yes, Kenya in 2017 had similar court case where the largest opposition leader, Raila Odinga challenged the electoral results and won against the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has however, been re-elected for a second term after securing more than 98% of the vote in a highly-contentious re-run election that was boycotted by his main opposition rival, Raila Odinga
Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) declared Kenyatta president-elect after securing 98.25% of votes cast in the re-run. His main rival, and the largest opposition leader, Raila Odinga who refused to participate in the poll, garnered just 0.96% of the vote.
This means that, with the Kenya case, even though Raila Odinga won the court case, he could not win the re-run as in the case with the Malawi largest opposition leader, Lazarus Chakwera.
This feat in Malawi’s democracy has been commended by world leaders across the world. The Judges who passed the verdict were not left out of the praise as Chatham House in the United Kingdom went further to award the Judges with one of the most prestigious awards in the world.
According to Chatham House, Malawi’s constitutional court judges have set an example for their peers across the world by upholding the centrality of the rule of law and separation of powers at a time when standards of democratic governance are under threat not only in Africa, but in many democracies.
Today, the eyes of the world is pointing directly at Ghana as they wait patiently to the court proceedings that is expected to begin January 15, 2021.
It can be recalled that, John Dramani Mahama and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) filed an election petition on December 30, 2020 at the Supreme Court to challenge the presidential results of the 2020 general election.
John Dramani Mahama and the NDC seek relief of the following:
1. The first respondent(Electoral Commission) violated Article 63(3), 23 and 296. This is to say the EC acted wrongly in declaring the second respondent (Akuffo Addo) President-Elect.
2. No candidate got the required 50% + 1 votes to be declared president-elect
3. The declaration of the President-Elect is void.
4. An order annulling CI 135. This is instrument declaring Akuffo Addo President-Elect.
5. An injunction restraining Akufo Addo from holding himself as President-Elect.
6. There must be a run-off between the petitioner (John Mahama) and the 2nd respondent (Akufo Addo).
The two respondents (Electoral Commission and Akuffo Addo) have between now to January 8, 2021 to respond. Court’s expected pre-hearing and main sitting begin January 9, 2021 and January 15, 2021 respectively.
Ghana in 2012, also witness an election petition filed by the then flag bearer of the party, Akuffo Addo. The petition after eight months of legal battle among the NPP, NDC and the Electoral Commission, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the two respondents (NDC and the Electoral Commission).
In Africa, two countries (Kenya and Malawi) managed to challenged a declared election results and orders a re-run.
What will be Ghana’s fate in this year’s election petition as the world wait patiently for the outcome of the election petition?