A supporter for Malawi's ruling party carries a placard which denounces the verdict by the Constitutional Court which nullifed the May presidential elections, in Blantyre, Feb. 17, 2020. (Lameck Masina/VOA)
A supporter for Malawi's ruling party carries a placard which denounces the verdict by the Constitutional Court which nullifed the May presidential elections, in Blantyre, Feb. 17, 2020. (Lameck Masina/VOA)

BLANTYRE, MALAWI - Supporters of Malawi's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) marched in the commercial capital, Blantyre, on Monday to protest a ruling by the country's Constitutional Court that nullified last May's election and the victory of President Peter Mutharika.

The protest came two weeks after the party asked the Supreme Court of Appeal to overturn the ruling.

The marchers, who numbered in the hundreds, submitted a petition to the court Monday, saying the verdict was an attempt to subvert the will of the people.  

A member of the DPP's governing council, Henry Mussa, presented a 10-point petition through Blantyre City Assembly authorities.

"The DPP condemns in the strongest terms the manner and style in which the elections case court verdict was pronounced," he said. "The ruling represents a political coup and an attack on very foundations of our electoral democratic order."

Henry Mussa, center, reads out the petition during the demonstrations in Blantyre, Malawi, Feb. 17, 2020. (Lameck Masina/VOA)

Mussa said the Constitutional Court demonstrated a high level of hypocrisy by nullifying the election results.

He also said some of the issues the court raised were not presented by the complainants.  

"For example, they [judges] say to them, the majority is 50+1. Where is this coming from because if you go through the complaints lodged by both the first and second petitioners, there is no mention about the 50+1 to mean majority. Where is this coming from?" he said.

According to Mussa, the party "feels strongly that the whole judgment was biased," because some Constitutional Court judges are relatives of candidates who lost the election.

During the May elections, Mutharika narrowly won by 38 percent. Lazarus Chakwera of the opposition Malawi Congress Party took 35 percent. Saulos Chilima of the opposition United Transformation Movement party won 20 percent.

Chilima and Chakwera disputed the results in court.

In its ruling on February 3, the Constitutional Court nullified the results because of what is said were "widespread" irregularities and ordered new elections.

Political analyst Vincent Kondowe says he feels the DPP demonstrations won't change anything.

"For me, they are chasing political shadows," he said. "Once the court comes up with the judgment, it is a judgment unless set aside by the higher court. The only thing they can do is to go to the Supreme Court of Appeal. So for me, whether they demonstrate or not demonstrate, it doesn't make any sense."

Organizers say similar demonstrations are expected in other districts in coming days.

In the meantime, the Supreme Court of Appeal has yet to say when it will hold a hearing on the case.