June 19, 2021

Mutharika asks court to dismiss poll case on technical grounds: ‘MCP, UTM petition incompetent, irregular and embarrassing”

President Peter Mutharika and governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawyers have filed to the constitution court to strike out the election dispute case filled by the opposition, the lawyer for DPP, Chancy Gondwe, has confirmed.
Chakwera and UTM Party president Saulos Chilima, who is also the country’s immediate past vice-president, are challenging the May 21 presidential election results that were marred by use of Tippex by Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) in altering figures on results sheets.
The two filed a case against MEC in court, and the court has since included President Peter Mutharika as the first respondent to the petition with MEC as the second respondent.
The DPP filed and served a notice of preliminary application in the Constitutional Court on Wednesday against the poll petition by UTM and Malawi Congress Party (MCP).
The DPP has raised three main preliminary issues for the determination of the Constitutional Court.
“…that the UTM petition be struck out for being irregular, incompetent and incurably defective, that the MCP has not filed any election petition known to the law within the prescribed seven days period and should therefore be removed as a party to these proceedings and that the purported election petition by MCP be struck out for being irregular, incompetent, embarrassing and incurably defective,” says the notice in part.
The DPP argues in the application that: “The UTM Petition was not supported by any sworn statement filed within the prescribed 7 days and cites wrong sections of the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act.”
The ruling party also says that the purported MCP petition is a purported sworn statement by Dr. Lazarus Chakwera but signed by lawyer Titus Mvalo without any jurat.
“The said sworn statement was not attested before a commissioner for oaths as required by law and the nature and purpose of this document is unknown as is alien to the law as it is neither a petition nor a sworn statement and it is therefore embarrassing to the respondents,” says the application.
The DPP also argues that the purported election petition was not duly filed with the court as it does not have the requisite court stamp signifying payment of the requisite fees and it purports to verify a petition that does not exist.
The five-judge panel comprises Healey Potani, Mike Tembo, Dingiswayo Madise, Ivy Kamanga and Redson Kapindu.
But some legal minds are labelling it as unfit, improper and incompetent.
Their argument cites that none of the petitions or submissions by UTM and MCP raised a constitutional question.
The Constitutional Court, by its very nature, must only deal with the interpretation of the Constitution.
The five-panel judges will hear the arguments Friday during the scheduling conference.
MEC on May 27 declared Mutharika winner of the presidential race with 1 940 709 votes representing 38.57 percent followed by MCP’s Lazarus Chakwera with 1 781 740 votes representing 35.41 percent while Chilima finished third and ahead of four other aspirants hopefuls with 1 018 369 votes representing 20.24 percent.

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