…to accommodate an emotional UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema
By Nation Reporter
THE Constitutional Court has set a strange and dangerous precedent by extending the hearing of the UPND election petition challenging the re-election of President Edgar Lungu by four days from the Constitutional limit of 14 days, Dora Siliya has observed.
And the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) has said the decision by the Constitutional Court to go beyond the 14 days jurisdiction to table the presidential petition is illegal and unlawful and has equally set a dangerous precedent with regard to the rule of law.
Ms Siliya said it was appalling that the Constitutional Court had breached its own rules and the Constitution by extending the period of hearing Hakainde Hichilema and his vice-president Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba from the 14 days constitutional limit to 18 days.
On Friday morning, the Constitution Court made a ruling that it had no mandate to continue presiding over the petition after 23:59 hours as that would be a breach of the Constitution.
But just about 23:59 hours, the Constitutional Court ruled against its earlier decision after Mr Hichilema and Mr Mwamba addressed the bench and extended the hearing for another four days starting from tomorrow.
But Ms Siliya, the Petauke Member of Parliament said it was frightening that the Constitutional Court had breached the very law it was meant to protect and uphold. “Will all wake up tomorrow (yesterday) wondering what happened that even the Constitutional Court is breaking the very law it was meant to uphold. This very Court ruled that it had no jurisdiction to extend14 days constitutional limit in hearing the petition and declared that the 14 days was just that,” Ms Siliya said.
She said such could be assumed that lacking representation in dying hours was purely an academic tactic to gain more time by the opposition UPND.
And YALI governance director Isaac Mwanza said his organisation was shocked by the casual attitude with which the Constitutional Court had dealt with the petition.
Mr Mwanza said the decision by the Constitutional Court to extend the time limit allowed by the Constitution for trying a presidential petition had set a most dangerous precedent with regards to both the rule of law.
Mr Mwanza said on Thursday, Justice Annie Sitali had handed down a ruling to the effect that the presidential petition would have to be concluded on September, 2, 2016 which would have marked the end of the 14 days stipulated by the Constitution.
“We are not aware of any provision in any law, which permits the court to refer a substantive ruling from a Judge of the Court, to the full bench. In effect, this was an appeal lying from a single judge, to the full bench, a most strange procedure whose foundation at law, we are at a loss to discover,” Mr Mwanza said