Blantyre, Malawi, Oct. 28 (MaraviPost) _ The High Court in the capital, Lilongwe, Tuesday struck a blow to the ruling Democratic Party (DPP) of President Peter Mutharika when Justice Esmie Chombo declared null and void parliamentary results of the Lilongwe South East constituency.

This follows a petition by the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) candidate Ulemu Msungama who lost narrowly to DPP’s Bentley Namasasu. Msungama claimed the DPP candidate cheated.

Initially Msungama was asking for a vote recount but just two days before the court could rule on that petition the Malawi Electoral Commission warehouse that kept the disputed ballots went up in flame in a mysterious fire. The MCP suspected arson, pointing fingers on the ruling party. The DPP denied the charges.

Justice Chombo’s Tuesday ruling means Namasasu immediately ceases to be MP for the area, according to Msungama’s lawyer Emmanuel Chapu.

“As of today the area has no MP,” he said.

After the May elections, the MCP won 49 seats while the DPP won 50 but had to give up the seat won by President Mutharika because, constitutionally, the president cannot double as an MP. The former ruling People’s Party of former president Joyce Banda won 26 seats with the United Democratic Front (UDF) bagging 14 seats. The Alliance for Democracy and the now-dissolved Chipani Cha Pfuko won a seat each in the 193-member Parliament.

Independent, with 52 seats, won the majority in the 193 member Parliament. The DPP, however, boosted their numbers to 51 after it won two by-elections – one in Mutharika’s vacant constituency in the southern tea-growing of Thyolo, the other in Blantyre when no elections were held on May 20 because of death of an MCP candidate.-maravipost

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