High Court in Lilongwe has ruled to continue with the elections case and rejected the request by President Peter Mutharika to throw out the case.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera and UTM Party president Saulos Chilima Saulos Chilima are challenging the outcome of the May 21 polls in which President Peter Mutharika was declared winner thereby securing another five-year term for his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Opposition supporters – who have been holding protests calling on the president to resign on the grounds the elections were rigged – waited at the court to hear the ruling delivered in the evening.
They started jubiliating when news filtered out of the court the the five-member judges panel allowed the court to proceed hearing the elections petition.
Private practice lawyer Frank Mbeta, who is representing President Mutharika, had applied on behalf of the president – the first respondent in the case – for the challenge to the election result to be dismissed on the grounds that the petitions filed by Chakwera and Chilima were irregular as they had not paid sufficient court fees.
But delivering the ruling, the Constitutional court said Mutharika’s basis of his application appears to be” religious adherence” to the rules of procedure.
“ The 1st Respondent has himself failed to strictly adhere to the rules of procedure by citing non-existent rules. Rules of procedure in the High Court are governed by the Courts (High Court) (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2017 and not CPR 2017. The application should accordingly be dismissed,” the judges said in their determination.
“ Assuming the 1st Respondent meant to refer to Courts (High Court) (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2017 when he referred to CPR, 2017, we submit that the Order cited by the 1st Respondent do not refer to striking out of a case for being irregular, incompetent or defective.
“ Order 10 is about applications in proceeding and interlocutory orders. There is nowhere in Order 10 of the Courts (High Court) (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2017 that talks about striking out of claims for any reason. Moreover, the 1st Respondent has not cited the actual rule under Order 10 of the Courts (High Court) (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2017 under which his application is brought,” the court ruled.
The case will start on June 26, 2019.