Constitutional Court under Spotlight

ALL eyes will be on the Constitutional Court next week because of several fundamental applications that must be decided regarding the last Presidential and general elections.

Of immediate concern is the controversy regarding the inauguration of President Edgar Lungu on Tuesday 23rd August 2016.

The State is proceeding to prepare for the inauguration on the understanding that President Lungu was  validly elected on the basis of article 101 of the constitution which provides for the winner to obtain 50 percent plus 1 majority vote.

This is considered to be a stand-alone article of the constitution which does not provide for the Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini to take over power in the event of a petition, neither does it preclude the elected President to be inaugurated in the event of a petition.

However Attorney General Likando Kalaluka speaking at a press briefing had interpreted the section to mean that a petition would trigger an immediate vacation of office by the President to allow the Speaker to take over.

This is the provision under a separate section of the constitution namely Article 103.

Lawyer Celestine Mukandila has challenged the Attorney General’s interpretation and has asked the Constitutional Court to interpret the law as he does not believe that the State lawman gave a right interpretation.

Equally the State has proceeded to prepare for the inauguration as State House spokesman Amos Chanda stated that the President was prepared to observe the law, which stated that the winner of the election under article 101 should be inaugurated seven days after the declaration in spite of a petition.

Yesterday soon after the UPND lodged the  petition, a false statement attributed to State House suggested that President Lungu had ceded power and that Speaker Matibini had taken over the running of the country and would later in the day address the nation on both radio and television. State House was quick to deny the statement, describing it as forgery which the police were investigating and whose culprits should be arrested and prosecuted.

Meanwhile following the petition by UPND, lawyer Mukandila represented by Shamwana and company is expected to lodge additional papers seeking an expeditious hearing of the matter to settle the legal controversy.