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MCP, UTM win round one

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By Rebecca Chaimjeka:

INTERESTED PARTY— Chilima arrives at court
premises

The Constitutional Court sitting in Lilongwe Friday unanimously embraced Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera’s and his UTM counterpart Saulos Chilima’s petitions that the court should consider nullifying results of the May 21 presidential election.

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This was after President Peter Mutharika and Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) objected to the petitions filed by Chakwera and Chilima, who are dissatisfied with results of the election.

The two leaders are fighting Mec Chairperson Jane Ansah’s declaration that Mutharika won the presidential election, citing a number of irregularities.

This means the elections case will proceed as planned and, at the end of the process, the court will decide whether to nullify the results of the elections or not.

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MCP lawyer, Mordecai Msisha, said the judges ruled against applications to dismiss the petitions.

“Those applications have failed.

“The petitions will go ahead. There was an application by the ones that applied to dismiss the petitions [led by Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale] for the court to allow them to appeal against this decision. They have been given that leave but that will not stop the process. The case will continue. They can go on and appeal to the Supreme Court. We will deal with it there,” he said.

Mutharika and Mec are respondents in the case.

According to Msisha, the issue of venue safety was also raised in court.

“They will look at more alternatives. This one has physical limitations. There are concerns about safety as well. May be crowd-control could be a problem but my view [is that] crowd-control is a problem anywhere, wherever you have a crowd,” Msisha said.

MCP and UTM supporters started arriving at court premises around mid-day, waiting for the case to start at 3pm. The judges eventually arrived at around 4:30pm.

Before the case started, the supporters were singing in praise of Chakwera and Chilima, who attended the proceedings.

But, as the case was being heard, running battles ensued between the supporters and police officers. In the melee, the officers used teargas canisters to disperse the crowd.

Malawi Defence Force officers were later deployed and calm returned.

After the three-hour hearing, Chakwera said he was happy with the court’s ruling.

“We are happy with the ruling. I urge everyone to have hope and confidence in the Judiciary,” Chakwera said.

On his part, Chilima said: “We have won round one and the case continues. It will be up to the judges to determine the dates.”

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