Mutharika unveils 2 witnesses in elections case

President Peter Mutharika, the first respondent in the presidential election results nullification petition, is this week set to parade two witnesses to be cross-examined by petitioners’ lawyers.

Frank Mbeta, one of the lawyers representing Mutharika who was added to the case by virtue of being the declared winner, told the court that the President’s first witness will be his former aide now Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Ben Phiri.

First respondent: Mutharika

Phiri, who is also Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) director of elections, will be followed by Blantyre-based lawyer Bob Chimkango, according to Mutharika’s legal team.

The parading of the respondents’ witnesses follows the conclusion of testimony of witnesses for first petitioner Saulos Chilima (UTM Party president) and second petitioner Lazarus Chakwera (Malawi Congress Party president).

On Wednesday, lawyers for Mutharika and second respondent Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) concluded cross-examining Chakwera’s sixth witness, Daud Suleman, an information technology (IT) expert who made a simulation of the elections results management system in court.

Phiri and Chimkango will take to the witness box after conclusion of the re-examination of Suleman by Chakwera’s lead counsel Modecai Msisha and his team either today or tomorrow.

During his turn of cross-examining Suleman On Wednesday, Mbeta, like Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale and Tamando Chokotho, refrained from asking questions bordering on the evidence the witness provided, particularly on the issue of the ‘ghost’ user who purportedly approved some results.

Instead, Mbeta wanted to know whether votes for Chakwera, Mutharika and Chilima were added in the process of ‘vote rigging’.

In response, the witness said no vote was added to any of the presidential candidates’ results. However, he said he will explain his response during the re-examination session that started later on Wednesday.

Mbeta also partially asked the witness questions on the audit trail and whether the IT expert carried a network analysis to identify the ‘ghost’ user believed to have compromised the management of results in the MEC system.

In response, Suleman said: “I did not carry a network analysis because the audit trail was disabled…”

Msisha re-examined Suleman on his professional qualifications and expertise in IT and partly on the Result Management System (RMS). He is expected to finish the exercise today.

In the past 47 days, Mutharika and MEC lawyers have cross-examined the two petitioners and their witnesses.

In the case, Chilima and Chakwera are seeking nullification of the presidential election results in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections and an order for a rerun.

The court earlier projected that it would conclude hearing the case by December 6 and that the judges would deliver their verdict within 45 days from the date.

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