The High court sitting as Constitution Court has rejected an application by Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to extend an inspection exercise of presidential ballot in the case where two petitioners are challenging the presidential results.
The two petitioners, past immediate vice president Saulos Chilima of United Transformation Movement (UTM) and former leader of opposition in parliament Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) are calling for nullification of the presidential results which President peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was declared a winner.
In the election case Mutharika and MEC are the first and second respondents respectively.
The electoral commission applied to court, through an ex-parte to extend the inspection period which ended on Sunday, arguing that it was not given enough time to access all the said documents.
A five judge panel of the high court of Malawi, comprises of Ivy Kamanga, Haley Potani, Dingiswayo Madise, Redson Kapindu and Mike Tembo rejected the application saying it was “ill-conceived”
“The court finds the application ill-conceived on the ground that the disclosures are ordered by the court were sought by the second petitioner (MCP) not the second respondent (MEC),” the ruling said.
The ruling continued; “In any event, the materials, the subject of order of disclosure, are documents emanating from or authored by the second respondent (MEC) itself, therefore the application is dismissed.”
In his observation, governance expert Makhumbo Munthali said MEC is playing delaying tactics.
“MEC is simply playing delaying tactics in order to buy more time to prepare after the high court rejected their plea to discontinue the case,” Munthali said.
He further suggested that it will be of everyone’s benefit if the case ended in good time.
“However, it is in the best interest of all parties involved and of course the general public that the case concluded in good time. Any further delay is unwarranted. It is on this basis that the court decision must be commended,” he suggested.
Private lawyer representing MEC said the extension bid could have benefited everyone.