Malawi: 7 Judges Panel Reconstituted in Malawi Election Case Appeal - Chikopa in, Mwaungulu Not Available

President Peter Mutharika (file photo).
15 April 2020

The Judiciary has reconstituted the panel of seven judges panel at the Supreme Court of Appeal to hear the high profile presidential election case from today April 15 following a challenge on the Constitutional Court ruling by President Peter Mutharika and Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).

The new inclusion in Justice Lovemore Chikopa to join the bench led by Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda.

Justice Chikopa is replacing Justice Dunstain Mwaungulu who is not present.

The panel includes other judges; Justice Edward Twea, Justice Anaclet Chipeta, Justice Anthony Kamanga, Justice Frank Kapanda and Justice Renzine Mzikamanda.

The hearing will take place for two days in Lilongwe.

In it's communication, the Judiciary said the appeal hearing will he held in compliance with restriction measures of the coronavirus such as physical distancing, thereby restricting the number of lawyers to represent parties in the case.

Both respondents and appellants will be represented by a maximum of two lawyers each.

Lawyers Frank Mbeta and Samuel Tembenu will represent President Mutharika while private practice lawyer Tamando Chokhotho - who has been into the matter since its inception - will represent Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).

For the respondents, Dr Chikosa Silungwe and Marshall Chilenga will represent UTM Party leader Saulos Chilima while Mordecai Msiska and Pempho Likongwe will represent Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidential hopeful Lazarus Chakwera.

The courtroom will also allow at least three people from each party.

The number of court users has also be minimized.

President Mutharika and MEC have filed several grounds against the Constitutional Court ruling which annulled the May 21 presidential election and ordered a fresh election.

The Constitutional Court cited irregularities and anomalies which were so widespread, systematic and grave that the outcome of the results had been seriously compromised.

The election last May returned the sitting president to power, leading to deadly confrontations and widespread unrest.

The MEC had declared Mutharika the narrow winner of the May election with 38 percent of votes, followed by Lazarus Chakwera with 35 percent and former Vice President Saulos Chilima third with 20 percent.

Mutharika had denounced the ruling as "a serious subversion of justice, an attack on our democratic systems and an attempt to undermine the will of the people".

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