Over the years, election tribunals have become a common feature in Africa’s electoral landscape. Several electoral laws have included provisions for tribunals, granting the judiciary the ultimate authority in resolving both pre and post-election disputes on the continent. It serves as an essential component of democracy on the continent, which has witnessed more coups than any other region globally.
Interestingly, election tribunal results seldom lead to the overturning of existing election outcomes. But here are four African countries where election tribunals have played a role in election reversals.
The 2001 presidential election in Madagascar saw Didier Ratsiraka emerge as the president of the island country. However, this outcome was challenged by Ravalomanana and his supporters, leading to a legal and political standoff.
In response, the election tribunal nullified the initial results and called for a fresh presidential election. In the subsequent runoff election, Marc Ravalomanana emerged as the winner, marking a significant political shift in the country’s leadership.
After allegations of irregularities and disputes regarding the initial election results in Cosmos, which had declared Azali Assoumani as the initial winner of the election, a constitutional tribunal issued an order for a repeat of the presidential election in 2016.
The rerun decision came after opposition candidates including Mohamed Ali Soilihi challenged the results due to allegations of irregularities and disputes regarding the election process.
In the rerun election, Azali Assoumani emerged as the final winner, securing his presidency.
In August 2017, Kenya held a highly contentious election in which the incumbent president, Uhuru Kenyatta, narrowly secured victory over his opponent, Raila Odinga.
However, Odinga refused to accept his defeat, alleging that the electoral process was marred by criminal subversion. He proceeded to file a presidential petition challenging the election results, ultimately leading to the nullification of the election by the court.
In October 2017, a fresh presidential election was conducted, and this time, Uhuru Kenyatta emerged victorious once again, securing his re-election as the President of Kenya.
In May 2019, Peter Mutharika secured re-election as the President of the Republic of Malawi. However, the court nullified the election that President Peter Mutharika had won, citing significant irregularities throughout the electoral process. The verdict resulted from a court challenge filed by Saulos Chilima, leader of the opposition United Transformation Movement Party, and Lazarus Chakwera, leader of the Malawi Congress Party.
The court called for fresh elections within 150 days and also reinstated former Vice President Saulos Chilima. In February 2020, the High Court ruled in favor of the petitioners. A new presidential election was conducted in June 2020, with Lazarus Chakwera emerging as the victor.