Malawi: Mutharika Legal Counsel Set to Appeal On Suspension of Court Orders

13 February 2020

President Peter Mutharika's legal team in the election case is upbeat that their client would instruct them to appeal against the Constitutional Court ruling on Wednesday on the suspension of the court order which nullified the May 21, 2019 presidential election.

Mutharika's legal team: Samuel Tembenu, Charles Mhango, David Kanyenda and Chancy Gondwe

Charles Chidongondo Mhango, the sole lawyer for the Mutharika legal team who turned up for the appeal hearing on Wednesday at the Constitutional Court in Lilongwe, said he was yet to get instructions from Mutharika on the way forward of the case.

"But my personal opinion is that we have very solid grounds for appeal in the Supreme Court," he said.

A legal expert at Chancellor College Sunduzwayo Madise said the appeal case is supposed to be heard by a single judge but the court might decide to assign all the nine judges of the Supreme Court to hear the case.

He, however, said that since the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah is among the nine Supreme Court judges, there is a possibility for seven judges to hear the case.

Madise said since Ansah, one of the Supreme Court judges is a respondent to the case in her capacity as MEC chairperson, the court might hire a retired Supreme Court judge to chair the appeal hearing.

On Wednesday the Constitutional Court rejected an appeal, brought by President Mutharika and electoral commission, to suspend the judgment it made last week annulling last May's presidential election.

The court also dismissed the electoral body's claim that another election would be too expensive.

Judge Dingiswayo Madise said democracy was costly and the rights of citizens were paramount.

The court's initial ruling invalidated Mutharika's narrow victory on the grounds of widespread polling irregularities.

It has ordered a re-run of the poll within five months.

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