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Outcome of petition against Lungu's re-election was pre-determined – opposition

05 September 2016, 15:27

Lusaka - Zambia's Constitutional Court has dismissed a petition by opposition United Party for National Development President, Hakainde Hichilema and his running mate, Geoffrey Bwalya who were challenging the re-election of President Edgar Lungu.

A government source said that Zambia's government would proceed with plans to inaugurate Lungu as the Constitutional Court's extension beyond a 14-day deadline of the opposition's legal challenge to the vote was illegal.

Lungu's inauguration after an August 11 election was postponed after Hichilema challenged the result in court, claiming the vote was rigged. 

A law introduced in January stated that the winner of a presidential vote could not be sworn in if their victory was contested in a court.

Hichilema, according to The Post, claimed that the outcome of the petition against the re-election of Lungu was pre-determined while complaining over the manner in which the Constitutional Court decided to proceed with the matter.

The opposition's lawyers left the court on Friday  after stating that they couldn't represent their clients adequately as they were only granted three hours for the presidential petition to be heard, as the matter had to be heard within the prescribed 14 day period after filing of the petition.

When his lawyers quit, Zambia's Constitutional Court granted Hichilema an extension to hear and rule on the case beyond last Friday's cut-off date to give him more time to present his case.

But the government source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the extension was in breach of Zambia's laws.

"The constitutional provision says that they cannot go beyond 14 days and hearing the case beyond last Friday means they will be hearing the case outside the constitutional provision," he said.

Zambians were left worried that the legal tussle would delay efforts to revive an economy hurt by weak global commodity prices which have slashed receipts for copper, its top export.

- News 24


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