Malawi: Chilima Cross-Examination Ends - AG Kaphale Calls for Courtroom Decorum

14 August 2019

Wrapping up five days of relentless cross-examination of first petitioner Saulos Chilima in the historic elections case, Attorney General (AG) Kalekeni Kaphale told the five-judge panel of the High Court sitting as Constitutional Court in Lilongwe that the audience in the public gallery were murmuring against him.

Kaphale is representing MEC being government's chief legal adviser.

Kaphale, representing Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), second respondent in the case, asked for an afternoon recess so that he could work on some affidavits for easy questioning, surprised both the lawyers for petitioners as well as the public gallery when he asked for more time saying he had three more pages of questions, after 5pm when he was supposed to be done.

This did not go well with the public gallery who were heard murmuring in disagreements with Kaphale's wish.

"My Lord, My Lady I don't think they believe me," he told the panel of five judges, to which president Judge Healey Potani asked, "Who doesn't believe you honorable Attorney General?"

Kaphale then said that it should be noted that cross examining a witness is not a simple job and a lawyer needs all the decorum of court because when the public starts making some noise, it affects the lawyer during the questioning line.

"My Lord, my Lady if I start to be moody then I am afraid that things will go haywire," said Kaphale

When Justice Ivy Kamanga asked what is better between the audience in public gallery or the court to believe him, Kaphale said sometimes the court determine cases depending on the reaction from the crowd.

Potani later reminded the audience to maintain silence and not behave as if they are at a football ground where they should be cheering teams.

"We have been reminding the public gallery on the importance of maintaining the court's decorum, the court is at liberty of clearing the gallery anytime it feels so. If this continues, we will identify those who will be making noise and remove them from the court," he said.

Throughout the grueling questioning, Kaphale has been asking Chilima to confirm if fraud took place through the use of correction fluid, Tippex, which the former Vice President said Tippex was indeed used to correct figures, but was not supposed to be used.

Chilima also admitted during Kaphale's unrelenting questioning that no monitor for his UTM Party has submitted a sworn statement to the court challenging the results, further stating that if the monitors had alternative results, he would have brought the same to court.

But the first petitioner picked out an issue on original result sheets, citing one case of a fake results sheet he said should also not have been used.

Meanwhile, the court has been adjourned to Friday morning, paving the way for the Supreme Court which will hear the appeal by the respondents Thursday whether to throw out the case or not.

Chilima and MCP presidential candidate in the disputed elections Lazarus Chakwera, as petitioners, are arguing that the tripartite elections lacked credibility and must be declared null and void.

The petitioners, in the case being covered live by some local broadcasters, contend that President Peter Mutharika "won a fraudulent election" fraught with irregularities, including use of correction fluid and being found in possession of results sheets at home.

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