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Saulos Chilima presses for Jane Ansah’s ouster

Saulos Chilima

By Wezzie Gausi, Jameson Chauluka & Festone Malekezo:

GIFT TRAPENCE

Vice-President Saulos Chilima is returning to court today to continue with a case in which he wants President Peter Mutharika to fire Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) chairperson Jane Ansah and her fellow commissioners after Parliament and two courts found them incompetent.

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has also indicated its intention to join the case which the UTM leader—and now Tonse Alliance running mate—filed in February.

In April, High Court judge, Ruth Chinangwa, put Chilima’s case on hold in order to wait for the Supreme Court judgement on the presidential election petition appeal case.

The Supreme Court upheld the judgement of the High Court that had heard the presidential election petition case as a constitutional referral, that the 2019 poll was marred by widespread and systematic irregularities and that Malawi should conduct a fresh presidential election.

It, however, did not order Mutharika to fire the commissioners as prayed by Chilima’s legal team led by Chikosa Silungwe.

Both Silungwe and another member of the team, Bright Theu, confirmed in separate interviews that they are going back to court now that the judgement of the Supreme Court was delivered.

“The matter was already in court but it was pending, waiting for the Supreme Court judgement. Now that the judgement is out, we are going back,” Theu said.

In a separate interview, HRDC Chairperson, Gift Trapence, said the coalition will be joining the case because Mec ignored the rights body’s demands that the commissioners should leave office by Friday last week.

HRDC’s lawyer Wesley Mwafulirwa said documents about the intention to join the case today have been processed.

Meanwhile, Trapence also announced at a press conference in Lilongwe Monday that, despite going to court, the group will go ahead with demonstrations on May 28 demanding the resignation of Ansah and all the commissioners.

“We have also asked political parties not to give space to Ansah during the National Elections Consultative Forum meetings,

“And we have to assure her that there is going to be no such a thing as shifting the dates for the election. The court was so clear; Ansah is not the law, so she has to abide by what the court said,” he said.

Youth and Society has also written Mec asking for details regarding payments the electoral body might have made to Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale and the South African lawyers who were involved in the presidential election case at some point.

Kaphale was stopped from continuing representing Mec by the Constitutional Court before the Supreme Court further reprimanded him, saying as head of the bar, he was supposed to be offering legal guidance in the case rather than taking a side.

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