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Zambia's constitutional court extends deadline for election petition

Zambia's constitutional court extends deadline for election petition

Zambia

Zambia’s Constitutional Court ruled on Saturday to extend to next week, the petition filed by the opposition challenging the re-election of Edgar Lungu. This is to give the opposition more time to prepare its case.

Local media reports say the extension followed a last minute appeal by opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema to the Court to allow him hire a fresh team of lawyers.

Hichilema’s lawyers aborted the court process after several of their applications were dismissed with the Constitutional Court was set to make a final ruling on the presidential petition at midnight, Friday.

But the president of the Constitional Court, Hildah Chibomba granted the extra time saying: “We shall allow the petitioners to engage lawyers to represent them and this matter stands adjourned up to Monday.”

The court had two weeks to decide on the challenge filed by Hichilema on August 19 claiming violence marred the August 11 presidential poll.

President Lungu’s lawyers had earlier opposed the extension saying the matter should be concluded within 14 days as stipulated by the constitution.

Both sides will however get the chance to present their case in court with the opposition taking its turn on Monday. “Each party shall be given two days to present their case,” Chibomba said.

The swearing-in of Edgar Lungu thus remains postponed as a new rule introduced in January this year prevents the inauguration of a president if the vote is contested.