Chilima withdraws 34 witnesses: Respondents want petitioner to bear costs

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In a twist turn of events, the first petitioner in the Presidential Election Case, former vice president Saulos Chilima,  has withdrawn 34 of his 40 witnesses, with his lawyers arguing that its in the spirit of expediting the case.

Chilima and his legal team at the court Chilima and his legal team at the court

The withdrawal means UTM would only anchor its case on three sworn statements, that include Chilima himself, and key witnesses  and UTM officials Miriam Gwalidi and Darlington Ndasauka.

Soon after the Constitutional Court resumed hearing of the case on Thursday, in which Chilima and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) leader Lazarus Chakwera are seeking nullification of the May 21 Presidential Elections, lead lawyer for UTM, Chikosa Silungwe, announced that his side was presenting no more witnesses.

“It is imperative to the desire of expedited court proceedings on the matter,” said Silungwe.

However, lawyers for Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) and President Arthur Peter Mutharika have applied to the court so that the first petitioner foot the costs that were spent on researching and scrutinising on the withdrawn statements.

 Mutharika's lawyer, Frank Mbeta, argued that all parties cannot bear the costs of the withdrawn witnesses as the matter was only in preliminary stage.

Chilima's lawyer, however, suggested that the costs be wavered and be included later as the decision has been made in the common interest of all parties.

Healey Potani, leading a panel of five judges, reserved his ruling on the costs issue to Tuesday.

Hearing has since been adjourned to Tuesday 17th September where the lawyers for the respondents will start cross examining the second pettioner , Lazarus Chakwera.

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