The High Court in Lilongwe on Monday cleared Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to announce results of the presidential election, vacating an injunction which Malawi Congress Party (MCP) obtained on Saturday.
MCP is still free to pursue a judicial review on the decision that the results of the presidential election from areas which were marred by serious irregularities were announced and on MEC’s decision to tabulate the results without prior verification with MCP.
The same court granted MCP an injunction stopping the announcement until votes from Nsanje, Chikwawa, Mangochi, Blantyre, Zomba Karonga, Rumphi, Nkhata Bay, Mulanje, Rumphi were verified through recounting of the ballot papers.
In his ruling made at 5pm on Monday, High Court judge Charles Mkandawire said the mandate to announce results of an election rested with MEC and the court would let them go ahead to do so.
“After hearing the arguments from both sides, the court has appreciated and is satisfied that the said stay order should be discharged. I, therefore, order that the respondent is at liberty to proceed with the processes so that it complies with the Act,” he said.
It was MEC’s argument that MCP erred in rushing to court when the commission was not given the opportunity to resolve the grievances as directed by the Civil (High Court) procedure rules and the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act.
Mkandawire, however, observed that MEC was aware that MCP had lodged a complaint on irregularities in the presidential election but the commission was going ahead to announce results before addressing the complaint.
He disagreed with the position of MEC lawyers that the electoral body was not aware of any complaint when they had in fact acknowledged receipt of the MCP letter.
Said Mkandawire: “The respondent was ready to announce the presidential results but for the stay granted. This gives an impression that the respondent could have released the results without deciding on the complaint submitted by the applicants.”
After the decision of the court was known to the public, the roads in Lilongwe City became congested as people rushed home amid fears that violence would erupt in some areas.
But not long after the court ruling, in townships such as Area 36, Falls and Mtandire, people went out of their homes to celebrate MEC chairperson Jane Ansah’s declaration of President Peter Mutharika as the winner.