Malawi’s opposition unites ahead of poll re-run

The two main opposition parties in Malawi have joined forces in an effort to defeat the country’s president in a re-run of last year’s annulled election.

President Peter Mutharika won with just over a third of the votes, but last month the constitutional court nullified the result due to irregularities.

Thousands of supporters gathered in the capital, Lilongwe, on Thursday to witness the signing of the pact between two of Malawi’s opposition parties – the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the United Transformation Movement (UTM).

Their combined tally from last year’s presidential election was more than 50% of the votes, so this alliance could make life extremely difficult for President Peter Mutharika.

For now though he does not look ready to risk losing power in a re-run of the poll. The president has made sweeping changes at the top of the military, has refused to ratify new electoral bills and has appointed a new cabinet.

If, as expected, Malawi soon sees cases of the coronavirus, the combination of a health crisis and a political dispute could be extremely dangerous.