JUDGE THREATENS TO THROW OUT UPND’S PETITION

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By CHINTU MALAMBO

THE Constitutional Court has warned that it will throw out the petition where UPND president Hakainde Hichilema and his former running mate, Geoffrey Mwamba, want the court to declare that the Speaker of the National Assembly should have assumed powers of the President when the election petition was in court.

Justice Palan Mulonda said the matter will be dismissed if the parties in the matter will fail to comply with the orders for directions.

He said this when the matter came up for status conference in the Constitutional Court last week.

This is in a matter where Mr Hichilema and Mr Mwamba petitioned the court in August 2016 after the presidential election seeking an order directed at the Speaker of the National Assembly to assume executive powers until determination of the presidential petition.

They also wanted the court to prohibit President Edgar Lungu from performing the executive functions.  The petitioners sued President Lungu and the Attorney General.

When the matter came up last week, however, lawyer representing the UPND leader, Jeffrey Chimankata, said his clients where serious about prosecution of the matter but that they wanted to amend their request in the petition.

“At the last sitting, he had indicated to the court that the petitioners are desirous of amending the petition. However, after further deliberations our instructions are that we should continue with the way things are on record as it is now a question of interpretation, stated Mr Chimankata.

“We will rely on the skeleton arguments filed on August 31 2016 save for an amendment to the prayer that was there. Otherwise, the petitioners are serious with prosecuting this matter and would like to see it concluded,” Mr Chimankata said.

Meanwhile, counsel from the Attorney General’s Chambers, Francis Mwale, said he will wait for the amendment to the petitioner’s prayer so that they could respond.

Justice Mulonda however, said he was granting the last status conference and ordered parties to file the necessary documents as agreed by July 9 this year or he would dismiss the matter for want of prosecution.

“Having heard from the petitioner that they are serious with their intention to prosecute this matter, my court will take it that these agreed upon dates will be observed, failure to which this matter will be dismissed for want of prosecution,” Justice Mulonda said.

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