Attorney General request to adjourn Malawi elections case trial refused

The High Court sitting as the Constitutional Court in Lilongwe has dismissed Attorney General’s application for adjournment of the hearing to petitions to nullify presidential results in the May 21 Tripartite Elections.

Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale asked for adjournment but court refused.-Photo by Moses Nyirenda, Mana
MCP and UTM supporters at the court-Photo by Moses Nyirenda, Mana

Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale in the morning of Thursday asked for a six-day adjournment, saying the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) legal team served his office with sworn affidavits as late as Wednesday.

He therefore asked the five-judge panel sitting on the case for the adjournment, saying him and his team wanted to study the affidavits as they will base his arguments in the case.

But reading a determination, Justice Mike Tembo son behalf of other judges Healey Potani, Dingiswayo Madise, Redson Kapindu and Ivy Kamanga, refused to allow the adjournment and ruled that the case will proceed.

“This court is hearing at this point the application of the first petitioner. There appears to be no serious concerns with the petitions filed by the first petitioner,” said the judge.

He said the observation of the court is that MEC had adequate time to review the files by UTM president.

“The court is not convinced that an adjournment is merited at this point and we therefore proceed to hear the first petitioner’s case,” said judge Tembo.

On the  application by the Attorney General that they be given time, six days in particular to study the files, Justice Tembo granted  two and half days to do so, up to Monday afternoon.

Immediately after the ruling, the case proceeded.

UTM Party president Saulos Chilima is the first petitioner and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera as the second petitioner. President Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), in his capacity as the declared winner, is the first respondent with Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) as the second petitioner.

At the start of the hearing in the afternoon, legal team for Chilima the country’s immediate past vice-president started by presenting their case.

Chilima and Chakwera are challenging results of the presidential election which MEC Chairperson Jane Ansah declared was won by Mutharika. The results indicated that Chakwera was second and Chilima third.

Chakwera contends that Mutharika “won a fraudulent election” fraught with irregularities, including alleged stuffing of ballot papers with pre-marked ballots, tampering with election results sheets through correction fluid and being found in possession of  result sheets at home.

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