Zambia’s Constitutional Court on Monday dismissed a petition challenging the re-election of President Edgar Lungu, saying the 14-day period on which it was supposed to hear the matter had expired.
The court dismissed the petition filed by main opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema, who had asked it to nullify Lungu’s re-election because of malpractices in the vote count.
The petition was dismissed on a 3-2 vote by the court judges.
The petition was filed on Aug. 19 and the 14-day period ended last Friday. But the court decided that it will hear and conclude the matter by midnight and gave the parties two hours to present their case, a move that riled lawyers representing Hichilema, who decided to walk out.
The opposition leader, however, asked the court for more time to look for lawyers to represent, arguing the court’s failure to grant him his request will be denying him his constitutional right.
The court later ruled that the matter will be heard this week, and gave each party two days to present their case.
But when the hearing commenced, Attorney General Likando Kalaluka raised the issue of whether the court was in order to continue with the petition when the law states that the matter should be heard and determined within 14 days.
Lungu’s lawyers did not turn up at the court, saying they could not participate in a process that was outside the law. They contended that the opposition leader’s lawyers had 14 days to present their case but failed to utilize it.
On Saturday, Lungu also said he will consult his lawyers on the way forward after the court refused to rule on the matter after the 14-day period.
Lungu was declared winner of the Aug. 11 polls after getting 1,860,877 votes while Hichilema got 1,760,347 votes.
But the opposition leader petitioned the results on allegations of malpractices in the vote count. The petition was slowed down by the preliminaries issues raised by both the petitioners and the defense team.