Opposition protests expected again in Malawi amid ongoing dispute over May election

Anti-government protests are expected across Malawi today as opposition groups call for the resignation of Electoral Commission Chief Jane Ansah,

Malawi Election Protesters say the demos and dialogue should run concurrently Picture by Lameck Masina

Photo: VOA

Anti-government protests are expected across Malawi today as opposition groups call for the resignation of Electoral Commission Chief Jane Ansah, who is implicated in allegations of election fraud.

Malawi has been in political limbo since the results of May 21 elections, in which incumbent President Peter Mutharika was re-elected, were announced. Two other candidates are challenging the outcome in court, alleging that the vote was marred by fraud and that result sheets were altered using typewriter correction fluid.

Led by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition opposition group, the protests—seeing turnouts in the tens to hundreds of thousands—have remained largely non-violent. On August 28, Malawi’s Supreme Court dubiously ruled in favour of a 14-day protest ban, signalling its disdain for the protests.

Popular pressure to rerun the election is likely to continue over the medium-term, as the risk of violence escalates. Mutharika largely lacks public backing, having only secured 38.6% of the popular vote, so expect anti-government sentiment to grow. If protesters continue to feel unheard, with Ansah’s continued service and court decisions in the government’s favour, violent protests could become more widespread, forcing Mutharika to either crack down on dissent or bend to demonstrators’ demands.

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