The Lilongwe High Court on Tuesday brought in further confusion in the case in which Malawi Congress Party MCP (MCP) candidate for Lilongwe City South East constituency Ulemu Msungama is disputing the results by asking him to provide the court with more substantiated evidence that elections in the disputed constituency were rigged.
The court’s demand comes just days after the ballot papers that were earmarked for recounting were destroyed by fire. The recounting was ordered by the same court just days before the fire gutted down Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) warehouse where the ballot papers were being kept.
In the Tuesday order the Registrar of the High Court Justice Kishindo said that after hearing the supplementary evidence in support of Sungama’s petition as well as counter arguments from the winning candidate Bentry Namasasu, the court will go ahead to declare a winner for the constituency.
According to lawyer Emmanuel Tchapo who is representing Sungama said following the fire incident the complainant sought direction from the court and a decision was made that both sides should abandon their earlier positions.
Sungama applied for nullification of the results and was pushing for a recount to substantiate his rigging claims while Namasasu on the other hand sought an injunction stopping the recount after the High Court ruled that the recount could be done.
“The court’s new direction is that within three days, the petitioner should file any supplementary affidavits in support of his position and the interested party must be allowed to respond. After another three days the petitioner may reply to the responses,” said Tchapo.
After the supplementary submissions the matter will go for hearing and Tchapo said he was hopeful that this will take almost 14 days.
In the disputed May 20 elections Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Namasasu was declared winner by MEC.
The fire incident at the MEC warehouse happened just two days before the High Court could start hearing Namasasu’s arguments supporting his request to stop the recounting.
MEC which earlier indicated that it was regarding the fire as a normal incident last week questioned the involvement of the country’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) in providing security to the warehouse saying there was no arrangement between the Commission and the spy agent.
MEC also said that it was not ruling out arson and asked the Inspector General of the Malawi Police Service to institute appropriate investigations.
The NIS is headed by DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi, who during the standoff over the May 20 Elections raised eyebrows as was always the first to discover ‘stray’ ballot boxes as the other parties were pushing for a recount.
The fire, among several materials, destroyed 2,400 ballot boxes which some contained ballot papers for the Lilongwe City South East whose results areFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :