Lungu’s lawyers absent from court, PF preparing inauguration

Lawyers representing PF president Edgar Lungu and his partner Inonge Wina are absent from the Constitutional Court. If Lungu’s lawyers stay away, the court can issue a judgment in default.

The Court is however expected to start hearing evidence from UPND lawyers who have been retained, after walking out of court on Friday.

The Constitutional court last week gave three interpretations of the 14 days ‘hearing’, the first interpretation was given by judge Annie Mwewa Sitali who ruled, as single judge, that hearing would start on September 2, 2016. She later overruled herself and said ’14 days is 14 days’ so the petition ought to have started and ended last Friday. The full bench, which included judge Mwewa, later decided that the hearing will continue this week.

The PF has only one strategy: the Court must not hear the evidence so their only weapon now is to prevent the court from hearing the petition. The PF has usurped the power to interpret the constitution from judges.

Meanwhile, Amos Chanda has told Reuters news agency that the PF will proceed with plans to inaugurate Edgar Lungu as the Constitutional Court’s extension beyond a 14-day deadline of the opposition’s legal challenge to the vote is illegal.

The PF has also reported the court to the police, in a bizarre move.
Lungu’s inauguration after an Aug. 11 election was postponed because his rival Hakainde Hichilema challenged the result in court, saying the vote was rigged. A law introduced in January says the winner of a presidential vote cannot be sworn in if their victory is contested in a court.

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 Amos Chanda, who spoke on condition of anonymity to Reuters, 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.

Lungu was consulting his lawyers over the court extension, his spokesman said, and the government would issue a statement on Monday.

On the other side, the Watchdog is reliably involved that the UPND will not accept Lungu as president without the petition being disposed of properly.

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