In a sudden turn of events, immediate past vice-president Saulos Chilima has decided to withdraw the evidence of his 34 monitors in the elections petition case who alleged electoral irregularities, the Constitutional Court heard on Thursday.
Chilima (centre) withdraws 34 witnesses who had made sowrn statement to court in elections case
Lead lawyer for Chilima, cool-talking Dr Chikosa Silungwe informed the Court that the UTM Party president, who is first petitioner in the case, was withdrawing the witnesses expedite the case or speedy resolution of the petition.
UTM has paraded four witnesses in the case which include Chilima, Mirriam Gwalidi a roving monitor, Darlington Ndasauka and Bright Kawaka, UTM Party's deputy director of elections.
"Bringing another 34 witnesses to repeat what others have already will not add any value," said Silungwe.
He said they did not want to have repetitions, saying the four witnesses so far have shed light on their case in arguing irregularities.
Considering that the other witnesses confessed in court that they exaggerated that there were "a litany of irregularities" that marred the elections in favour of President Peter Mutharika, Chilima is said to have feared for more embarrassment from the lawyers of respondents led by Frank Mbeta and Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale respectively in cross-examination.
However, UTM sources say most of the witnesses refused to come to court unless they are paid their dues for monitoring the elections on behalf of party.
The development means that it will now be the turn of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidential hopeful Lazarus Chakwera to enter the witness stand as second petitioner in the case.
The case has been adjourned to Tuesday next week when Chakwera will lay out his case.
President Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), in his personal capacity as the declared winner, is the first respondent with Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) appearing as the second respondent.
The petitioners contend that Mutharika "won a fraudulent May 21 2019 Presidential Election" fraught with irregularities, including alleged tampering with election results sheets through correction fluid, popularly known as Tippex.