Malawi Law Society Tells Court to Release Poll Results, Put On Hold Swearing in Ceremony

Malawi Law Society has told the High Court in Lilongwe to release the presidential results but hold the swearing in ceremony until all grievances are dealt with.

Lawyers Martha Kaukonde (L) and Charles Mpaka leave the courts

In an affidavit presented in the court on Sunday, the Malawi Law Society (MLS) lawyers said there was no need to suspend Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) processes once the electoral process was in motion.

"No need for swearing in of any declared winner before the 24 days for dispute resolution provided at High Court level," says the affidavit in part.

The MLS has joined the case as amicus curiae (friend of the court) as the opposition MCP is waging a legal battle against MEC's decision to declare president Peter Mutharika winner in the presidential race before a recount of some districts where the party says poll results were manipulated in favour of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate.

MLS lawyers therefore asked Judge Charles Mkandawire to give directions that enable the complainant handling the electoral processes at MEC and High Court to be exhausted without interfering with the functions of MEC while recognizing the need to exhaust the full dispute resolution mechanism at the court and the pollster.

"We also asked the court not to allow the Constitution and the presidential and parliamentary Elections Act being used as engines of alleged fraud or irregularities if the dispute resolution process is not allowed to be exhausted," says the affidavit in part.

MLS argues that the process of determining results within eight days cannot be interrupted.

The eight-day period to determine the results ends on Wednesday, therefore the MLS says any party dissatisfied with the MEC's determination is entitled to appeal or review before the High Court.

MCP wants votes from Nsanje, Chikwawa, Mangochi, Blantyre, Zomba, Karonga, Rumphi, Nkhata Bay, Chitipa, and Mulanje verified through recounting of the ballot papers.

But MEC lawyers led by Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale, have argued that MCP wrongly obtained a stay order before exhausting remedies from electoral body as mandated by law.

The Civil (High Court) procedure rules and the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act provides that MEC should be allowed to resolve electoral disputes and only after not being satisfied with that determination the matter can be taken to court.

DPP has since joined the case as an interested party.

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