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Presidential elections appeal hearing today

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TO REPRESENT MUTHARIKA—Mbeta

The Supreme Court of Appeal is today expected to decide on whether to uphold or not the enforcement of the Constitution Court judgment on the presidential election case delivered on February 3, 2020.

Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) and President Peter Mutharika were respondents to the petition that Malawi Congress Party President (MCP) Lazarus Chakwera and UTM counterpart Saulos Chilima filed against the May 21 2020, presidential election results.

The commission and Mutharika appealed the judgment which annulled the presidential elections as they were marred by wide and systematic irregularities.

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But Mutharika lodged 18 grounds while Mec listed 139 grounds against the judgment. Legal Expert Justin Dzonzi said the Supreme Court’s decision on the matter is very crucial for the country politically and in the judicial system.

“The court has the powers to either agree or disagree and the consequences are substantial. If the Supreme Court agrees with the High Court, it means we have to go through the elections. More fundamentally it means that certain election processes would also have to be fundamentally changed,” Dzonzi said.

He said if the court upholds the judgment, it means winning an election at presidential level would require one to have 50 percent+1 of votes. Chilima’s lead counsel Chikosa Silungwe and Chakwera’s lawyer Titus Mvalo said both parties are ready to argue before the court in order to dismiss the application.

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“We are ready to appear. We have put up our views and strong arguments to persuade the court to dismiss the appeal,” said Silungwe

He said in view of the court restrictions due to the Covid-19 outbreak Chilima will be represented by him and Marshall Chilenga while Chakwera will be represented by counsels Modecai Msisha and Pempho Likongwe.

Mutharika’s lawyer Frank Mbeta also said their side is prepared and he will represent the president alongside Samuel Tembenu. Tamando Chokhotho will alone represent Mec after Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda threw out its application to have South

African lawyers in the appeal case.

Nyirenda dismissed the application on basis that among others, the applicants did not meet a requirement that the lawyers be  physically present during hearing of the application.

“I have been in the matter since inception and I will be ready to represent the appeal on Wednesday,” said Chokotho. Among others Mec insists that the Constitutional Court erred by continuing with the case when it knew of reports that some people wanted to bribe the panel of judges midway through the trial which the commission’s Chairperson Jane Ansah said amounts to mistrial hence the need for the matter to be heard by another court Mec also argued that it was not practicable to hold the fresh elections in 150 days citing financial constraints and transport challenges it faced when managing the May 21, 2019 elections.

Mutharika among others said the court erred in law when it announced that the elections were marred with irregularities without taking into the law of irregularities.

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