Peter Mutharika

Malawi police arrest human rights activists

Peter Jegwa

Lilongwe, Malawi

Gift Trapence (right) and Timothy Mtambo (left) during a demonstration
The human rights group had planned to close the president's official residences

Malawi police have arrested two human rights activists for threatening to shut down the president's official residences just hours after the president warned them.

The two who were arrested, Gift Trapence and Macdonald Sembereka, are members of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC).

They were arrested on Sunday night and police are looking for the organisation's leader Timothy Mtambo.

They had threatened to close the president's official residences in different cities across the country if he fails to sack the electoral body boss.

Nyasa Times reports that President Peter Mutharika warned HRDC on Sunday and quoted him as saying: "I'll show them what I'm made of".

Mr Trapence and Mr Sembereka have been charged with inciting violence according to HRDC member Luke Tembo.

The organisation has been organising protests against the handling of May 2019 presidential elections that the court ordered be repeated.

Malawi sets date for fresh elections after annulment

A voter casts their ballot in May 2019.
Widespread irregularities marred last year's poll

Malawi's parliament has passed a law that sets 19 May 2020 as the date for fresh presidential elections.

Last May's polls, which handed victory to President Peter Mutharika, were nullified earlier this month by the Constitutional Court citing widespread irregularities.

The challenge was brought by two opposition candidates - Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima - whose lawyers said some tallying forms had been doctored with Tipp-Ex, and that some polling officials sent in the wrong copy of the results sheet to the main tallying centre.

The new law passed on Monday includes provision for a run-off presidential election to be held if no candidate wins a 50% plus one majority, Malawi24 reports.

It also reports that parliament passed a bill to ensure that the electoral commission's chairperson is first nominated by the Judicial Service Commission, then appointed by the president on the recommendation of the Public Appointments Committee.

Other members of the electoral commission will be appointed on recommendation of the Public Appointments Committee following nominations from political parties represented in parliament, Malawi24 adds.

Malawi leader lambastes ‘death of democracy’

Malawian President Peter Mutharika
President Mutharika is going to appeal against the ruling

Malawi's President Peter Mutharika has accused the country's Constitutional Court of attacking democracy.

On Monday, the court annulled the result of last May's election in which Mr Mutharika was narrowly won re-election.

Judges said there had been vote-tampering and correction fluid was used to alter the results.

Mr Mutharika is to go to the Supreme Court to appeal against the ruling, which he says was "full of errors that needed to be corrected" and a "serious subversion of justice".

He stressed it only related to procedural issues and not vote rigging.

The BBC's Sammy Awami in the capital, Lilongwe, says it is clear that Mr Mutharika is not going to lose the presidency without a fight.

But the president also sought to recover ground from his opponents, who have claimed the judgement as a triumph of democracy.

Mr Mutharika thanked opposition leaders for bringing their grievance to court, underlining that only a democratic state would allow such a move.

But he attacked the decision by the judges as the beginning of the "death of Malawi’s democracy".

Unsurprisingly the opposition disagrees. They have been celebrating Monday’s ruling as a new dawn for the country’s democracy.

But Wednesday night’s address and the upcoming appeal may have dampened that mood.

Malawi opposition to reject EU report on elections

A woman votes during the May elections
President Peter Mutharika was elected by a narrow margin

Malawi's main opposition party will reject a report to be released by the European Union observer mission on the country's disputed elections.

The EU delegation is expected to release its report on Wednesday.

In its preliminary report, released in May two days after the poll, the EU mission said the election had been well manged and inclusive but the campaign had been "marked by tensions and an unlevel playing field".

But the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) deputy spokesperson Ezekiel Ching'oma says the delegation will have "cooked up" their findings.

Malawians are waiting for the Constitutional Court to rule on an election petition lodged by the MCP and the United Transformation Movement (UTM).

The two parties want the results of the May 2019 election nullified citing electoral malpractices.

The electoral commission and President Peter Mutharika's political party - the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) - have said that the elections were free and fair.

President Mutharika was declared winner with 1,940,709 votes, followed by the MCP's Lazarus Chakwera with 1,781,740.

The UTM's Saulos Chilima, Mr Mutharika's former vice-president, came third with 1,018,369 votes.

"Is this the kind of democracy we fought for?"

Malawi demonstrators vow to go ahead with protests as Mutharika deploys military
Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika has vowed to deploy the military to all borders and airports to prevent any disruptions by demonstrators who are planning mass rallies across the country. 

One of the protest organisers is Timothy Mtambo, The Executive Director of the 'Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation'.

Last week, his house was petrol bombed and he was forced to escape with his family.

Speaking to Newsday, he said: "We are scared. Are we going to continue with a government which is supposed to protect us a civilians and is now targeting us?"

(Photo: President Mutharika. Credit: Getty Images)

Mutharika calls to heal Malawi at swearing-in

Emmanuel Igunza

BBC Africa, Nairobi

Malawi's President Peter Mutharika has said it was now time to heal the country following the elections which have been highly divisive.

He was speaking at his swearing-in for a second term in office following his slim win in a controversial election.

A journalist for AFP news agency tweeted some pictures of the event:

View more on twitter

The ceremony was short but colourful.

Thousands of Mr Mutharika's supporters sang and danced as he slowly made his way to the podium.

Many of those who thronged the Kamuzu stadium in the city of Blantyre were dressed in the blue and white colours of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

And as the president took the oath of office, they shouted in jubilation.

The president was declared winner of the presidential race on Monday with 38.5% of vote.