24 June 2019

Malawi: Poll Case Survives Dismissal

Lilongwe — pic by Daniel Namwini

The election case which is being battled in the Constitutional Court sitting in Lilongwe will proceed after the court on Friday swerved aside Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)'s petition to dismiss the case.

Malawi Electoral Commission declared President Arthur Peter Mutharika winner of the May 21 election against protest of the presidential result in court by opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and United Transformation Movement (UTM).

However, Mutharika made application for the court to throw out the case filed by the two opposition parties on grounds that they were 'irregular'.

On Friday, the court swerved aside Mutharika's application and ruled that the case would continue.

Both, UTM and MCP leaders Saulos Chilima and Lazarus Chakwera respectively were present at the court and said were happy with the court's decision.

"We will continue to fight till justice is served," said Chakwera talking to reporters.

However, he advised the parties' followers to remain calm and desist from any form of violence.

The down side was that the judges came to the court late and while it (the court) was in session, fracas erupted outside the court between opposition supporters and the police.

This resulted in police firing teargas to the supporters who wanted to go nearer to the court but were being barred by the men in uniform.

Sadly, some opposition party supporters stoned vehicles belonging to the judges as they drove to the court. Others went on to break some shops, including that belonging to Bata Shoe Company. The people also blocked roads leading to the court by stones, branches of trees and burnt tyres.

However, the situation sobered when Malawi Defence Force Soldiers came in to restore order.

According to MCP lawyer Mordecai Msiska, the session will continue on June 26, 2019.

He said Mutharika's lawyers indicated they would appeal to the Supreme Court in a quest to have the decision by the constitutional court reversed.

"The court has allowed them to appeal but this will not stop the process, the case will continue. If they appeal to a different court we will deal with it there," he said.

Msiska further said the issue of shifting the venue to Blantyre was also raised saying the court in Lilongwe was not secure enough.

"The next hearing may take place in Lilongwe or Blantyre but as far as the security they are mentioning is concerned, it will be the same in Blantyre because there are also people there, what matters is how they handle them," said Msiska.

Chilima and Chakwera want the May 21 presidential election results to be nullified claiming there were serious irregularities that affected the results, hence their applications to the court which have since been combined.

MEC declared Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Arthur Peter Mutharika and his running mate Everton Chimulirenji as winners after getting 38.6 per cent of the registered voters.

Dr Lazarus Chakwera of MCP got 35.1 per cent while Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima of UTM amassed 20.1 per cent of total registered voters.

According to Frank Mbeta, Lawyer for Mutharika who is the first defendant in the case, Chakwera and Chilima's petitions are irregular and must be thrown out of court.

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