Malawi: Utm Explains Malawi Elections Case Witness Withdraw - 'It's Tactical'

12 September 2019

The UTM Party legal team has said the withdraw of 34 witnesses in the on-going presidential elections case is tactical and insisted that it is satisfied with the strength of the evidence tendered so far by four witnesses including for first petitioner in the case, immediate Vice President Saulos Chilima.

Chilima lawyers outside court: Silungwe on the left

Lawyer Dr Chikosa Silungwe, who is a lead counsel for Chilima said in an interview with Nyasa Times on Thursday that the decision was arrived at after a deep review of the case.

He said the decision also takes into consideration ",the progress made so far, the strength of the evidence already given at this juncture, and a thoughtful reflection on the time the case is taking to conclude [the case]" as the nation eagerly waits to hear the final judgment on the validity of the dubiously managed election held on 21 May 2019.

"The main motivation behind the decision is the need to quickly bring the case to its logical conclusion in a timely manner, without necessarily compromising on the strength of the case," said Silungwe.

"This is in line with the rules of the court which require that election cases should be concluded quickly within a number of days," he added.

Lawyer Silungwe continued: "The decision taken today also compliments the directions the court has been issuing to fast-track the case. The move has hugely cut on the time for concluding the case. With the 38 witnesses for the first petitioner withdrawn, the court will now move quickly to hear evidence for the second petitioner."

He said while the witnesses who have been withdrawn would have brought in further dimensions to the case, this has had to be balanced with the need not to take the nation for granted and keep it in a prolonged state of uncertainty.

"The nation needs to know the truth, and know it quickly so that together we can chart a new way forward for the country. The first petitioner's legal team maintains that there is enough evidence to work with for nullification of the presidential election," said Silungwe.

Silungwe took the court by surprise when he announced that they would not be bringing in any witnesses apart from the four that have already testified namely Chilima, Mirriam Gwalidi, Darlington Ndasauka and Bright Kawaga.

The Constitution Court will resume hearing of the case on Tuesday next week as it will start hearing the second petitioner's testimony, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidential hopeful, Lazarus Chakwera.

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