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Judge refers DPP elections case to constitutional court

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High Court Judge Dingiswayo Madise has referred Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)’s application for the court to nullify results of the June 23 2020 court-ordered presidential election to Chief Justice (CJ) Andrew Nyirenda for certification as a constitutional matter.

Madise observed that the DPP’s arguments raise serious constitutional issues which have to be addressed by the Constitutional Court.

Registrar of the High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal Gladys Gondwe said the matter came for an inter partes hearing.

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“The court has formed an opinion that there are constitutional questions which are worth consideration by a panel of judges. It has since been adjourned pending a referral by the court to the Honourable the Chief Justice for certification in the next seven days once the defendants file an amended defence,” he said.

DPP lawyer Charles Mhango confirmed the development, saying Madise would draft an order of referral and present it to the CJ within 14 days.

He said the judge had given the 14 days because the State wanted to amend its defence.

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“You see that the State wants to amend their defence. This means that they know that their defence is weak,” he said.

Asked on what amendments the State wanted to make in its defence, Ministry of Justice spokesperson Pilirani Masanjala said there was a need to wait for the order of referral itself.

“You will see that whether we make amendments or not, the decision has already been made; so, I would rather say we wait for the order of referral itself first,” he said

DPP wants the court to nullify results of last year’s presidential election, saying it was managed by commissioners who the court said were illegally appointed by former president Peter Mutharika.

The court faulted Mutharika for appointing more DPP commissioners— Arthur Nanthuru, Steve Duwa, Jean Mathanga and Linda Kunje— than were legally necessary. The former president appointed four DPP commissioners at the expense of Malawi Congress Party, which had two.

Addressing the media on Sunday, DPP leader Mutharika described the Tonse Alliance-led administration as “illegitimate”.

He claimed that the leadership ascended to power through what he termed as a judicial coup.

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