elections

Libel case fails: court finds election was at stake and media had ‘duty to publish’

Issues around elections continue to be heard by the courts. This time the case concerned a scandal that was brewing in 2002, about the malfunctioning IT system that was supposed to compile a national voters’ register for Uganda’s then pending election. Members of the consortium that seemed unable to sort out the register brought a defamation action against the publication that broke the story. But the court found the report was truthful and accurate and that the public needed to know the information as the success of the election was at stake.

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A prominent businessman from Kampala and a company he founded have failed in their attempt to sue The East African newspaper over a 2002 article related to preparations for the then-pending Ugandan elections.

Malawi appeal court judges set new election standards

Malawi’s Supreme Court of Appeal has confirmed that Peter Mutharika was ‘not duly elected’ as President in last year’s national election. This is important news: many people had been holding their breath as they waited for the appeal outcome. But that is far from all that the judgment decided. It also made final rulings on other issues that will impact on government and elections into the future, well beyond the forthcoming re-run. In this case the appeal court was considering a decision by Malawi's constitutional court, handed down earlier this year.

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In its 142-page decision the seven judges, among them the Chief Justice, Andrew Nyirenda, are unanimous in upholding the finding of the constitutional court: the May 2019 elections failed in their aim of ‘duly electing’ a new President. In other words, President Peter Mutharika, who headed the country before the May polls and was declared re-elected in those elections, was not in fact ‘duly elected’.

Malawi’s courts will intervene, even in party political disputes - judge

As election fever hots up in Malawi, a high court judge has reminded political parties of something many would rather forget: that under certain circumstances the judiciary is obliged to hear and decide party disputes. It could not be denied that courts had jurisdiction over ‘political disputes’ raising issues of a judicial nature, the judge said. And, where appropriate, for example if a party breached its own constitution or acted arbitrarily, judges had to “do their duty” and hear such cases.

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With general elections due in Malawi during May 2019, it is hardly surprising to find political parties have already begun bringing cases to court related to the upcoming polls.

But the latest case, involving Malawi Congress Party (MCP) hopeful, Patrick Bandawe, gave the court an opportunity to establish some important principles that political parties should bear in mind.

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