"It's shameful that the UDF party wants to take us back to the dark days,"

Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Muluzi's Battles to be slow and painful as his expenses on lawyer fees skyrocket

Battle lines have been drawn between former president Bakili Muluzi and the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) in a case Muluzi is challenging the electoral body’s decision to bar him from standing as a UDF presidential candidate in the forthcoming elections.
One of Muluzi’s lawyers, David Kanyenda, said on Tuesday the former president has hired two Queen’s Counsels (QCs) from the UK and one lawyer from South Africa to strengthen the local team in the challenge.
“We have a team of six legal houses but there will also be two QCs from the UK and one lawyer from South Africa,” said Kanyenda, who refused to name the foreign lawyers.
He said the foreign lawyers have also been among Muluzi’s legal team in other matters.
Kanyenda said, among other law firms Muluzi has hired, are those of Fahad Assani, Kalekeni Kaphale, John Gift Mwakhwawa and Jai Banda. Two other firms, Kanyenda said, are working behind the scenes. Meanwhile, Ralph Kasambara, the lead counsel of Muluzi in previous cases, on Tuesday refused to comment on whether he is still part of Muluzi’s lawyers.
Banda, who said Muluzi’s lawyers in the case are 24 in total, added that Kasambara is still part of the team because he was not withdrawn.
Kasambara’s party, the Congress for Democrats (CODE) which was in an alliance with UDF, is now working with MCP.
Meanwhile, MEC has appointed the Attorney General Jane Ansah to defend the case on its behalf.
In a notice of appointment of legal practitioners dated March 23, 2009, Ansah advises the court and Muluzi that MEC has appointed the AG’s chambers as their lawyers.
In an interview, Ansah confirmed the notice of appointment, saying the Ministry of Justice lawyers will handle the case.
The AG could not disclose names of the lawyers from her chambers, saying they will be known in court. She ruled out the possibility of hiring foreign lawyers, saying her ministry has the capacity to handle it.
On Monday, the Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo certified the case, saying it relates to and concerns the interpretation or application of the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi.
The case will be heard and disposed of by not less than three High Court judges sitting as the Constitutional Court.
Muluzi filed a challenge against MEC’s decision to bar him from standing on Sunday in the High Court in Blantyre, arguing it is a breach of his rights.
MEC on Friday rejected Muluzi’s candidacy because the former president already served two consecutive terms and that allowing him to stand would mean returning to the institution of Life Presidency.

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