Bated breath as Malawians wait court ruling, results announcement

 

    MEC has legally still have up to midnight to announce the results without breaking the law at the expiry of eight days.

    In what was seen as a blunder, the commission last week agreed with political parties to extend the period of announcement to 30 days.

    This was challenged by Labour Party leader Friday Jumbe, who took an injunction restraining this move. The injunction was being vacated after arguments from lawyers representing  Lazarus chakwera of the MCP, Peter Mutharika of DPP and MEC.

   But the high court hearing  was based on the question whether the electoral body can order a recount of the votes before the official announcement and also whether courts can extend the period of eight days before official announcement is made.

   MEC chairman Maxon Mbendera said Thursday the country’s disputed election was “free, fair and transparent and in my assessment, credible.”

    Saying the commission had come “across evidence of anomalies”, Mbendera said the election was   99 percent trouble free and “only 1.03 percent troubled.”

   “Did people express their will, they did,” he said.

     Mbendera reiterated that results of the poll would be announced on Friday, saying this would be done in accordance with the law.

    MEC is mandated to announce the results after eight days of voting, which is Friday, May 30.

    Mbendera, however said the results would be announced depending the outcome of the court case in Blantyre.  MEC will follow what the court will decide, he said. –Maravipost.

Lawyers on Friday spent  hours arguing on whether the electoral body had powers to order a recount of the vote or extend time from eight days to unlimited period before it determines the results.

Kalekeni Kaphale, lawyer representing Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party, told the court the Malawi Electoral commission “cannot order a recount contrary to statutory provisions. The commission does not have power to do a manual audit of the votes before determination is made.”

He said: “Whoever seeks a recount must convince the courts that such is desirable.”

Kaphale said even the court does not have powers to order the commission to extend the time after the provisional eight days before which results should be announced have expired.

“There is no provision for extension, neither can parties make an agreement  to extend time.”

Lawyer Pempho Likongwe, who is representing Lazarus Chakwera, president of the Malawi Congress Party, argued that the electoral body had “powers in examining the votes.”

“The commission has to make a decision as the results must genuinely reflect the will of the people,” Likongwe said. “The real issue is what is the will of the people of Malawi? This is what the commission has to determine.”

On extension of time, he said the real debate should be can the electoral body “give a true result even if it takes a bit longer than eight days?”

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