Malawi: Chakwera Ready to Outline Vote-Rigging Case in Malawi Presidential Elections

12 September 2019

Lawyers representing opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidential hopeful Lazarus Chakwera, have said the second petitioner in the historic presidential election petition matter in Constitution Court, is ready to outline his case and be cross-examined next Tuesday.

First petitioner Chilima (r) tells Chakwera: Over to you in the witness stand Opposition lawyer Titus Mvalo representing MCP : Ready

Lawyer Tutusa Mvalo told Nyasa Times in an interview on Thursday following the court order that Chakwera, who came second in the presidential race,be next to be in the witness stand on Tuesday as the case at the Constitutional Court in Lilongwe has taken took a dramatic turn with immediate past vice-president Saulos Chilima - the first petitioner -withdrawing all his 34 remaining witnesses.

The court was ready to start hearing Chakwera, but the parties, with endorsement of the court, collectively agreed that the case be adjourned to Tuesday next week to give them ample time prepare.

Mvalo said he is happy that the process so far has started to be expedited.

"Unlike in the first week we are now going at good pace," said Mvalo SC.

Parties involved, Frank Mbeta lawyer representing first respondent Peter Mutharika and Tamando Chokotho for Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), however, demanded costs from Chilima as they invested on research and prepared for the case based on sworn statements the withdrawn witnesses filed.

Lawyers for petitioners and respondents submitted on why they should be paid costs or why they should not be ordered to pay costs and the court reserved its ruling to a later date.

Accoridng to court record, he MCP presidential hopeful also asking the Constitutional Court to direct MEC to organise and conduct a fresh Presidential Election in strict conformity with the Constitution and Presidential Parliamentray Election Act (PPEA).

Chakwera claims, in his sworn statement, that MEC accepted the use of results tally sheets defaced with Tippex as a record for the polled votes, in place of original results tally sheets with no Tippex on them, without any plausible justification.

"[And] further to the above enumerated irregularities; the conduct of MEC in managing the elections was utterly unjust and unconscionable.

"MEC proceeded to announce the results without conducting a thorough audit and verification of the results and in disregard of the several complaints lodged by the petitioner through MCP," Chakwera complains.

He further claims that the electoral body had been negligent in its control and administration of the elections by failing to ensure that the relay of results from the polling stations was secure, accountable, accurate and verifiable.

Meanwhile, MCP said they will prove "several rigging acts" by suspected agents of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the results management of the May 21 Tripartite Elections as having distorted results in DPP's favour.

MCP explicitly accuses DPP members, supporters, sympathisers, officials and agents of engaging in "several rigging acts" that allegedly distorted the results in favour of DPP "against the votes and will of the people of Malawi".

The party has also cited cases of presiding officers at some polling stations in Dedza and Lilongwe districts, who allegedly denied MCP election monitors access to copies of results sheets despite the fact that the voting procedure designed by MEC required each monitor to keep a signed copy of the results.

MCP contends that Mutharika "won a fraudulent election" fraught with irregularities, including alleged stuffing of ballot papers with pre-marked ballots, tampering with election results sheets through correction fluid and being found in possession of result sheets at home.

MEC declared Mutharika winner of the presidential race with 1 940 709 votes or 38.57 percent. The electoral body said Chakwera was on second position with 1 781 740 votes, representing 35.41 percent of the vote and Chilima, who debuted on the presidential ballot on UTM Party ticket after falling out with Mutharika last June, finished third with 1 018 369 votes or 20.24 percent.

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