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Zambia opposition rejects court ruling dismissing election petition

Zambia opposition rejects court ruling dismissing election petition


Zambia’s main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) says it rejects
an inconsistent court ruling that dismissed a petition they brought against the re-election of incumbent Edgar Lungu.

In a press statement signed by Stephen Katuka, UPND’s Secretary General, the party insists that it had neither lost an election or a petition. They called for calm in their rank and file as they confer on the next legal steps available to them.

‘‘We know that this is a difficult time for all of you. But we wish to put it on record that we have not lost an election, neither have we lost the petition which was before the constitutional court,’‘ the statement read in part.

The party said they failed to understand how a case adjourned for hearing was called only for a ruling to be delivered. ‘‘How can the court tell us to prepare for a hearing and then come to deliver a judgment?’‘ they posed rhetorically.

The UPND also bemoaned the manner in which rulings by Judge Anne Mwewa Sitali had created in their view a constitutional crisis in the country.

‘‘It is important for us to point out that the constitutional court’s inconsistencies in presiding over the presidential petition have created a constitutional crisis which has brought us to where we are,’‘ the said.

Issues raised with respect to Judge Sitali

  • Judge Sitali initially gave direction in late August on hearing of the main presidential petition
  • According to law, the petition is supposed to be heard within fourteen days after filing
  • She slated that it will start on Friday 2nd September till 8th September 2016.
  • On Thursday 1st September, she rescinded her decision after hearing an oral submission by the respondents on the computation of time (14 days).
  • She also refused the UPND’s application to make amendments to the petition.

According to the party, the fact that two judges agreed that the petition had to be heard and not dismissed on the basis of a technicality meant that they stood on genuine grounds but for the inconsistencies in Justice Sitali’s rulings.

Zambia’s Constitutional Court has the final jurisdiction to hear and determine matters in respect of interpretation of any provision of the constitution. Dissatisfied parties cannot appeal to any other court after its ruling.

The UPND filed the petition challenging the re-election of Edgar Lungu in Zambia’s August 11 polls. They said the poll was rigged by the government with collusion from the Electoral Commission of Zambia (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. Hichelima got 47.35% of votes according to the final results.

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