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Twelve charged for ‘Tippexing’ 2019 polls

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Twelve presiding officers have been charged with the offence of falsifying documents in relation to the use of correction fluid Tippex during the May 21 2019 presidential election.

The accused appeared before Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate Patrick Chirwa, who read to each one of them the count of falsifying election results tally sheets.

The 12, who had spent two days in police custody before their court appearance, pleaded not guilty to charge.

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The presiding officers, who Malawi Electoral Commission hired to manage the election, had duty stations in Lilongwe on election day.

Immediately after they entered a not guilty plea, the State asked the court to adjourn proceedings until next month, indicating that it would be ready with 16 witnesses by that time.

In response, defence lawyer Powell Nkhutabasa asked the court to grant his clients bail, a submission the State had no problems with.

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In granting bail, Chirwa imposed some restrictions on the accused, including that they should not leave Lilongwe District without getting approval from police.

The 12 must also be reporting to police headquarters every fortnight, apart from paying a cash bond of K50,000 each.

At least 17 presiding officers were arrested in connection with the offence. The other five are yet to appear in court.

The 2019 presidential elections results were nullified by the High Court sitting as a Constitutional Court.

It, among other factors, cited the systematic and widespread use of Tippex.

The court ordered a fresh presidential poll, a decision supported by the Supreme Court of Appeal. In the subsequent election, held on June 23 2020, Lazarus Chakwera emerged victorious.

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