Protesters blocked the offices of the Malawi election commission on Thursday in a new attempt to force the head of the panel to resign after a higher court revoked last May’s presidential elections.
On February 3, the Constitutional Court annulled the results that declared President Peter Mutharika, who had a narrow, victorious leadership and whipped the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) for "incompetence."
The unprecedented verdict was triggered by the use of correction fluid on the counting sheets, the documents in which the electoral supervisors recorded the ballot counts.
About 1,000 protesters marched for five kilometers (three miles) to the MEC offices in the commercial capital Blantyre and used rusty chains to close their entrance doors.
The military watched but did not intervene.
In the administrative capital, Lilongwe, some 5,000 people defied the rain to march to the MEC offices.
After chaining and blocking their entrance, they handed the keys to an army officer.
Protesters demanded that the president of the commission, Jane Ansah, resign.
"We will not stop here until Jane Ansah resigns," Masauko Thawe, leader of the Blantyre protests, told the AFP news agency.
"This is the MEC we don't want because we can't trust them. We need a new MEC that can operate according to the expectations of all Malawians," Thawe said.
Ansah says he will resign only if the Supreme Court confirms the ruling of the Constitutional Court, which also ordered new elections within 150 days.
She told lawmakers this week that the correction fluid, referred to by her trade name Tippex, had been used only to correct results, not to distort them.
"What happened in Malawi is quite significant. There needs to be clean elections," Alex Vines, head of the Africa program at Chatham House, told Al Jazeera.
"I am not sure that the current president of the electoral commission has the confidence of the Malawi electorate to continue in that role," Vines added.
An offer from Mutharika and the MEC to suspend the ruling was rejected by the Constitutional Court on Wednesday.
It is the first time that a presidential election has been challenged for legal reasons in Malawi since its independence from Britain in 1964, and only the second result of the vote was canceled in Africa after the Kenyan presidential vote of 2017.
Al Jazeera and news agencies