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Malawi’s electoral chief resigns ahead of election rerun

An election observer in Malawi, 14 March 2019. The Malawi Electoral Integrity Program (MEIP) unded by USAID and DfID, NDI is providing technical assistance to the Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN) to conduct a non-partisan citizen pre-election observation program and an election day parallel vote tabulation of the presidential results for the May 2019 tripartite elections. Photo: Monika Emch/Flickr

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chief Jane Ansah has stepped down with just a month to go before the country holds a court-ordered presidential election rerun.

The southern African country must hold fresh polls after the Constitutional Court overturned the results of last year’s controversial election, which handed President Peter Mutharika a second term. More: Malawi court rejects president’s appeal against poll annulment Malawi president files for election rerun with former leader’s son Malawi launches cash aid for poor amid COVID-19 pandemic

Ansah has since been the target of nationwide protests calling for her to go over her handling of the disputed election.

“I have written the appointing authority [the president] that I have decided to step down,” she told state broadcaster in an interview.

Leading human rights activists had been planning a fresh wave of protests next week to force Ansah to step down. Ansah denied she was giving in to pressure.

“I have fought a good fight and I go happy,” she said.”I have worked with clean hands and I have no skeletons in my cupboard.”

Ansah’s resignation comes exactly a year after the last elections which were annulled by the top court due to widespread irregularities and use of correction fluid.

The court ordered that a fresh election be held within 150 days of its February 3 ruling.

The electoral commission had initially set July 2, which was day 149 since the ruling, but has since brought the date forward to June 23.

Human rights defender Gift Trapence welcomed Ansah’s resignation.

“This is what Malawians have been wanting all along,” Trapence told AFP news agency.

“But we also want all the commissioners to go so that a new MEC can be constituted to allow the country to hold free and credible elections.”

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