On Sunday, May 10, large campaign rallies were held in Lilongwe and Mzuzu for the country's presidential election re-run scheduled to be held on Thursday, July 2, despite the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak and associated social distancing measures currently in place. President Peter Mutharika's running mate, Atupele Muluzi, reportedly held a large gathering in the capital Lilongwe and the opposition, the Tonse Alliance, an alliance of nine parties, held another rally in Mzuzu. According to reports, social distancing and mask-wearing measures were not observed during the congregations, which attracted huge groups of people. Handwashing facilities, such as buckets of water and soap were reportedly available, though not overly used.
The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) previously advised political parties to avoid campaign rallies amid the ongoing pandemic. Further associated rallies are likely to take place over the coming weeks in the run-up to the election.
Election-related demonstrations organized by opposition supporters have been held regularly since May 26, 2019, after voting irregularities were reported during the May 21 general elections. Demonstrators have been calling for the resignation of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah, accusing her of mishandling the presidential elections. Additionally, protesters are increasingly discontented with President Peter Mutharika and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as a whole.
The Malawian Constitutional Court in Lilongwe annulled President Mutharika's 2019 presidential election victory on Monday, February 3, upholding an application submitted by opposition parties. According to the court, there were widespread irregularities in the election results. Mutharika reportedly plans to appeal the court's ruling.
Individuals in Malawi are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all large public gatherings and demonstrations as a precaution, and adhere to instructions issued by the local authorities.
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