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Court upholds elections case

Seven judges of the Supreme Court of Appeal sitting in Lilongwe Thursday dismissed an appeal which lawyers representing President Peter Mutharika and Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) made asking the court to dismiss the on-going post-May 21 tripartite elections case.

This means that the Constitutional Court can continue hearing the case today.

The panel, led by Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda, in its determination after hearing submission of arguments from all parties, said the issues were appealable but they cannot interfere as they were, among other issues, administrative.

“The matters are appealable under provisions of section 21 and 23 of the Supreme Court of Appeal. Proceeding from there, we noticed a number of issues.

“We noticed that there is no notice of appeal filed by the first respondent, we noticed that there is a notice of appeal by the second appellant although the issues in the second appellant of appeal are matters raised by first appellant not the second appellant in the court below,” Nyirenda said.

He further said after making the observations, reading the skeleton arguments and having heard the lawyers orally, the court has dismissed the case because the matter relates to interlocutory order, case management and exercise of discretion of the court below [Constitutional Court].

Commenting on the matter, one of the lawyers for Mutharika, Charles Mhango, said they filed their papers and were of the view that the papers were in order.

“In terms of the merits of the decision, we are satisfied that the courts agreed with us that the matters are appealable. However, the court has observed that most of the issues which we raised could have been raised administratively,” he said

Mhango, however, said the development would not affect the on-going case saying what the court said are preliminary issues of the case.

Lawyer representing Malawi Congress Party president Lazarus Chakwera, Modecai Msisha, said the appeal was irregular in view of the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act.

“Based on the issues, how I have understood them, I think the court is right that issue could not have been filed,” he said

Lawyers for Mutharika appealed to the court, arguing that the petitioners filed their petitions outside a seven-day time frame provided in the Act and that they did not provide sworn statements in support of their petition.

Among the submissions were issues of receipts, payments and filing of documents.

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