Malawi: Mutharika Lawyers to Continue Heated Cross-Examining Chilima in Malawi Poll Case

President Peter Mutharika (file photo).
19 August 2019

UTM presidential candidate Saulos Chilima returns in the witness box Monday in the ongoing historic presidential election case when lawyers for first respondent President Peter Mutharika, will continue in cross-examining him about the evidence he has tendered in support of his petition.

Mutharika's lead counsel Frank Farouk Mbeta will quiz Chilima, the immediate past vice president, with questions related to video recordings in which he submitted as part of his eveidence to rely on.

Furthermore, Chilima will answer questions from other lawyer for Mutharika, former Attorney General Charles Mhango.

The recordings were submitted by Chilima in his petition in which Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) officials are overheard discussing election irregularities.

Chilima's lead lawyer Chikosa Silungwe acknowledged in court last Friday that some of the recordings and their narratives were mixed up and needs to be realigned.

The first recording was from a press conference embattled MEC chairperson Justice Jane Ansah held in Blantyre during the election result management process, when results had started streaming to the national tally centre, where she was responding to journalists and making reference to the 147 'Madando' [complaints] the commission had received in the aftermath of voting and counting.

Ansah was overheard sounding optimistic that political parties would accept the results, saying MEC had given parties chance to review complaints.

She further defended slow process of announcing results to work on complaints, saying all complaints were not about presidential results. And that MEC asked complainants to provide evidence, including result sheets for comparison during allegations that results were doctored.

In the second recording, MEC officials were addressing another press briefing in which the electoral body's officials are overheard responding to questions to journalists about an incident in Mzimba, where there was an alleged discovery of pre-marked ballot papers.

In the audio, MEC chief executive officer (CEO) Sam Alfandika is heard confirming the alleged incident and explaining that police have arrested the perpetrator, a teacher at one of the polling centres. He is further heard saying criminal prosecution would follow.

The third and final recording focused on Mutharika's rally in the aftermath of the elections, at which he is heard discussing the allegations of rigging in the elections.

At one instance, Mutharika tells the audience that a member of the opposition, had declared before the elections that there will be no rigging of the elections because "technology is his realm".

Then Mutharika is overheard making a statement that his party, too, had its "votes stolen" in the central parts of the country.

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