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Judicialization, Elections, Malawi, Rule of Law, Power Constraints


In contemporary Africa, the judicialization of presidential elections between incumbents and challengers in courts is becoming increasingly visible. The latest example of this judicialization is the Malawi case of Peter Mutharika v Lazarus Chakera and Saulos Chilima, which successfully triggered a repeat election in which an opposition politician defeated an incumbent. This article examines the consequences and implications of this case and compares the Malawi decision to cases in Kenya and Nigeria. It further analyzes the backlash on the Malawi justices from the executive and the subsequent solidarity seen from both legal and civil society. The article concludes that the decision illustrates the increasing role and importance of formal rules as a constraint on power in some African countries.