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Elections case

MCP’s Chakwera makes demands on cross-examination

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The Constitutional Court hearing the presidential election case in Lilongwe has

said it will provide its ruling today on applications and notices that Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president, Lazarus Chakwera, has made before he takes to the witness box.

Yesterday, chairperson of the panel of judges presiding over the case, Healey Potani, said the court had received seven applications and notices that Chakwera seeks orders and direction on, in relation to conduct of cross-examination of his witnesses.

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“There is also a notice filed by Chakwera where they say they seek to rely on documents, on the statement of Hazel Mkhondiya, which were introduced outside disclosure period. There is another notice to use gadgets in court,” he said.

The court heard two applications and the notices to ably give its determination on the matter.

In his oral submission, Msiska said the notice of areas of cross- examination from Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) and President Peter Mutharika points at Chakwera’s character, weight of evidence and Constitution matters which they found unnecessary.

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Msiska also asked the court to allow him to insert documents, outside disclosure period, which were inadvertently omitted in the sworn statements of Chakwera’s witnesses.

“What we were saying is that some of our witnesses referred to documents that were omitted from the bundle. So, we have given the notice to say [that] we have noticed this omission and we would like to put it,” he said.

He also said they want the respondents not to cross-examine Chakwera on sworn statements of his witnesses which he has not adopted as per the court’s earlier direction on the use of such documents.

“We were making a point that if one person in this case has not made a sworn statement but others have, that lay out the facts that supports his petition, he could not be subjected to questions on those areas the other witnesses have more information about it,” he said.

But responding to the issues, Mutharika’s lawyer Madalitso M’meta prayed for the dismissal of the application arguing that Chakwera merely wants to bring in new evidence.

“It is not appropriate to introduce such documents in the course of the trial as the parties have significantly prepared for this matter and ready to dispose of at once. To hold otherwise will entail giving the respondents an opportunity to revisit the evidence and make appropriate respondents before proceeding with the matter,” he said.

M’meta also said it was premature for Msiska to panic over cross-examination of issues of character, as the court had not yet started the process.

Mec lawyer Tamanda Chokhotho also objected to the applications. Potani has said the court will give its stand on the matter today as it needs ample time to look into the applications.

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