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Zambia Court Rejects Election Result Challenge

  • James Butty

FILE - Supporters of Edgar Lungu, leader of the Patriotic Front, celebrate after Lungu narrowly won re-election, in a vote that rival Hakainde Hichilema rejected on claims of alleged rigging by the electoral commission, in Lusaka, Zambia, Aug. 15, 2016.

FILE - Supporters of Edgar Lungu, leader of the Patriotic Front, celebrate after Lungu narrowly won re-election, in a vote that rival Hakainde Hichilema rejected on claims of alleged rigging by the electoral commission, in Lusaka, Zambia, Aug. 15, 2016.

Zambia’s opposition says a judge’s earlier ruling led it to miss the deadline to challenge the results of the August 11 presidential poll.

The constitutional court threw out the opposition’s petition Monday. Three of the five judges ruled that the 14-day window for hearing the petition had expired at midnight September 2.

The United Party for Development (UPND) says the court contradicted an earlier ruling by Judge Anne Mwewa-Sitali that the court would hear the petition from September 2 - 8.

“Now, the same judge comes back and said no, I misdirected myself in making that ruling a few days ago,” Cornelius Mweetwa, parliament member and deputy spokesman of the UPND, told VOA Daybreak Africa.

“We now need to begin to understand that we live in a different Zambia, one which is lawless. Zambia is now enlisting itself as one of the top contenders to lead that group of failed states, that group of rogue states, that group of disorganized countries where the rule of law becomes alien,” he said.

Judge Mwewa-Sitali reversed her decision after hearing an oral argument on the computation of time. She said UPND lawyers were to blame for the delay for repeatedly raising other issues that pushed back the start of the hearing.

The Zambian electoral commission said President Edgar Lungu won re-election with 50.35% to UPND’s Hakainde Hichilema’s 47.35% of votes.

The UPND maintains that Hichilema won the vote and said in a statement Monday that it is consulting its legal team about next steps.

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