The petition challenging the election of Edgar Lungu as president-elect in Zambia’s August 11 polls kicked off on Monday, August 29.
Two crucial issues were raised on the first day of the hearing. The first related to the transfer of power by the incumbent Lungu to the speaker of parliament and the other had to do with the custody of election materials as the case is being heard.
The Constitutional Court (ConCourt) served notice that it will give a ruling on the transfer of presidential powers to the speaker tomorrow afternoon. It also slated Wednesday to deliver a ruling regarding the custody of electoral materials.
The main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) filed an application praying the Constitutional Court to take custody of election materials to avoid tampering by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ).
The UPND led by Hakainde Hichilema filed a court action to challenge Edgar Lungu’s re-election, alleging the poll was rigged with the connivance of the ruling party and the ECZ.
The ECZ declared Lungu winner of the polls with 50.35% and insists that Lungu’s Patriotic Front (PF) party defeated the UPND’s Hichilema fairly and squarely.
The ConCourt has the final jurisdiction to hear and determine matters in respect of interpretation of any provision of the constitution, hence dissatisfied parties cannot appeal to any other court after its ruling.
The case is before Justice Hilda Chibomba and is expected to be decided within 14 days.
The swearing in of president Lungu scheduled for last Tuesday was suspended following the filing of the petition. Opposition members who took to the streets in the south of the country were arrested by police for violent acts as they protested the results.
President Edgar Lungu stood against nine other contenders, even though the race was largely fought between him and the main opposition’s Hichilema who came in second in the last elections.
The 59-year-old leader has been in power for a year and had gotten his first full mandate to rule the Southern African country. He became president after winning a ballot triggered by the death of his predecessor, Michael Sata, in October 2014.