It was no small thing that they did: when five Malawian judges overturned the 2019 presidential elections on account of ‘widespread, systematic and grave irregularities’ they knew the risks; on the day they delivered their judgment they came to court with an armed escort and wearing bullet-proof vests.
Announcing the award that is to be given to the judges, Dr Robin Niblett, director of Chatham House said that their ruling was ‘unprecedented in a country where past elections have been marred by irregularities, electoral fraud and violence.’
The five judges successfully asserted their independence in the face of significant pressures and the ‘power of incumbency’, he said.
Niblett said the decision was an historic moment for democratic governance. ‘The ruling by Malawi’s constitutional court judges is not only crucial for rebuilding the confidence of Malawi’s citizens in their institutions, but also for upholding standards of democracy more widely across the African continent.’
Pointing out that this is the centenary of Chatham House, he said, ‘There could be no more special way to mark Chatham House’s centenary than by recognising the commitment of these brave individuals to the cause of accountable government and the justice that this affords to all.’