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Malawi new presidential vote on 23 June: parliament

President Peter Mutharika will square off against the main opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera who challenged his victory, after coming a close second to Mutharika with 35% of the ballots cast in the last polling.

Malawi’s President and president of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Peter Mutharika (L on pick-up truck)stands with his electoral running mate Atupele Muluzi (R on pick-up truck) the president for United Democratic Front, which has gone into an electoral alliance with the ruling party, leave the Mount Soche hotel in Blantyre on 7 May 2020. Picture: AFP

LILONGWE - Malawi's parliament on Tuesday endorsed 23 June as the date for the presidential election re-run after a court annulled last year's vote over irregularities, a lawmaker said.

The election had handed President Peter Mutharika a second term, but with just 38.5% of the vote.

The country's Constitutional Court overturned the result, citing "grave" and "widespread" irregularities, including the use of correction fluid on ballot papers.

It ordered that fresh election be held within 150 days of its 3 February ruling.

The electoral commission had initially set 2 July but later brought the date forward to 23 June.

Legally parliament had to validate the new polling date.

"Parliament was required to gazette the legislation," Yeremiah Chihana, the lawmaker who moved the motion, told AFP.

He said the court ruling "clearly states that parliament must set a date for the elections".

He dismissed concerns that there was not adequate time to prepare for the polling.

"There is quite a lot of time to prepare for the election because this is merely a rerun and not a fresh election," he said.

The president will square off against the main opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera who challenged his victory, after coming a close second to Mutharika with 35% of the ballots cast in the last polling.

Meantime, a new electoral commission was sworn-in on Tuesday to organise the new vote, after the top court also ordered an investigation into the conduct of the previous one.

Jane Ansah, head of the last commission, resigned last month.

Her successor Chifundo Kachale, said the new commissioners would meet Wednesday to assess the level of preparedness.

It is the first time a presidential election has been challenged on legal grounds in Malawi since independence from Britain in 1964.