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Malawi Election case; President Mutharika, MEC fall again… court orders electoral materials protection

DPP gurus outside the court (Grezeder, Ulandi Mussa)

By Nenenji Mlangeni

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The Constitutional Court of  five-judge panel in High in Lilongwe  on Thursday accepted a request by Malawi Congress Party (MCP’s) President Lazarus Chakwera to amend his petition in the presidential elections case.

Dr. Chakwera is now asking for fresh election and not a recount of the presidential vote in some areas.

But the court has dismissed another request by Chakwera that there be new MEC commissioners to handle fresh polls in an event the court orders for a re-run.

The court said it has no jurisdiction over appointment of commissioners.

In the case, MEC is the second respondent while President Peter Mutharika is the first respondent to a joint petition from two presidential candidates, first petitioner Saulos Chilima of UTM Party and the second petitioner Chakwera of MCP.

Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda certified the case as a constitutional matter and appointed the five-judge panel to hear the case.

In their ruling on preliminary applications, the five-judge panel which comprises Healey Potani, Mike Tembo, Dingiswayo Madise, Ivy Kamanga and Redson Kapindu,  the court also ordered the electoral body headed by embattled Jane Mjojo Ansah to provide documents on audited election results to the court within 11 days.

The court also granted the wish of the petitioners that ballots and polling materials that would form part of evidence in court safety be kept by the Clerk of Parliament under conditions of strict security.

The judges said the electoral material be deposited with the Clerk of Parliament within 11 days from Thursday.

Chilima , the country’s immediate past vice president and Chakwera were also granted their wish by the court to access to MEC server and that bid documents for the recruitment of election auditors and the names of the auditors should be disclosed.

Mordecai Msiska, the lead legal counsel for Chakwera, said they want to  examine bank accounts of the country’s electoral staff to track possible bribe.

“We need to know whether any MEC staff had had transactions in their accounts that are unusual, that could not be explained in terms of inflows of funds”, he said.

But the court observed that allowing MEC access to the staff’s bank accounts would be an infringement of their right o privacy.

Both Chilima and Chakwera are challenging results of the presidential election, claiming that they were rigged in favour of Mutharika who was declared winner with 38 percent.

Results MEC announced show that Chakwera trailed Mutharika with 35 percent while Chilima finished third with 20 percent of the votes.

The hearing of the full matter resumes on July 29, 2019.

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