Malawi Lawyers to Hold Demo 'In Defence of Independence of Judiciary, Rule of Law'

Malawian lawyers are mobilising themselves to hold street demonostration in the country's four cities ; Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba on Wednesday June 17 to push for President Peter Mutharika and an Executive arm of government to respect the independence of the Judiciary and rule of law.

Lawyers to take to the streets for protests

The lawyers have already informed city authorities and the Malawi Police on their plans for peaceful demonstrations in court regalia and face masks.

"This is not only in line with our constitutional right but further is our duty to efend the institution which safeguards our existence as law profession," reads a statement signed by lawyers John Gift-Mwakhwawa, Ngeyi Kanyongolo, Alexious Silombela Kamangila and Mike Munthali.

The demonstrations by the lawyers will come amidst acrimony between the Executive and the Judiciary, with the High Court of Malawi granting two separate orders stopping the process to have Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda proceed on forced leave pending retirement.

The Southern African Chief Justices' Forum has since said the Executive's decision to send Chief Justice Nyirenda on leave is an attempt to interfere with the independence of the Judiciary in Malawi.

The forum said in a statement that the power to decide whether to go on leave pending retirement rests with the concerned judge and should be made in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission.

Meanwhile, law professors and academics from around the world, in a statement made available to Nyasa Times expressed concerns about coordinated attempts by the government to undermine the judiciary, including statements by President Peter Mutharika falsely accusing the judiciary of having staged a coup against his government and claiming that Parliament is supreme in Malawi, and an attempt by the government to repeal the two judgments via Parliament.

The judgments of the High Court of Malawi sitting as a Constitutional Court and of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, which held that the presidential election held on 21 May 2019 was marred by unlawful and unconstitutional actions and irregularities, and therefore that there must be a fresh presidential election.

These judgments also provided guidance on the standard to be used when determining the winner of a presidential election.

"We call upon the government of Malawi to uphold the rule of law and constitutionalism and to respect all court judgments. The government must refrain from attacking individual judges and from undermining the judiciary," the law professors and academicians stated.

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