Malawi attorneys protest chief justice’s pre-vote compelled retirement | Malawi Information

Lots of of Malawian attorneys have taken to the streets of a number of cities to protest in opposition to interference with the judiciary, after President Peter Mutharika positioned the nation’s chief justice on depart pending retirement because the nation gears up for a hotly contested election rerun ordered by the court docket.

Donning black robes and darkish cream wigs, the attorneys on Wednesday had been joined by legislation college students and lecturers on the streets of the capital, Lilongwe, and the cities of Blantyre, Zomba and Mzuzu.


Mutharika’s workplace issued a discover on Friday that despatched Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda into early retirement, 18 months earlier than he was as a result of depart and two weeks earlier than the nation returns to the polls on June 23.

The transfer, which prompted widespread condemnation, was reportedly halted by a excessive court docket injunction following appeals by the Malawi Human Rights Defenders Coalition, the Affiliation of Magistrates and the Malawi Regulation Society.

Nyirenda had led the Supreme Court docket resolution which rejected Mutharika’s bid to overturn a landmark ruling quashing his controversial re-election in Could final yr.

Within the judgement final month, Nyirenda mentioned “a number of the grounds for attraction weren’t simply fictious [fictitious] however purely unprofessional, disrespectful and distasteful”.

The protesters carried banners and placards calling for the separation of powers, telling the manager “maintain your fingers off our judiciary”.

“Our courts ought to be capable of ship judgements freely and independently with out interference,” mentioned lawyer Bernadette Malunga, who led the march in Lilongwe.

The choice by Mutharika’s administration sparked widespread criticism from attorneys’ and judges’ organisations in Malawi and overseas.

Major opposition chief Lazarus Chakwera mentioned the president’s motion was “a tragic case of interference” and alleged that it may very well be a “manner of capturing the judiciary in anticipation” of a ballot loss subsequent week.

“It is a very poor try that has tremendously embarrassed him. They’re attempting to get justice perverted on this nation,” Chakwera mentioned.

Mark Botomani, a authorities spokesman, on Tuesday insisted the chief justice had accrued 572 depart days and should proceed on depart.

“It’s best apply for judicial officers to proceed on depart pending retirement. The chief justice won’t be the primary judicial officer to have proceeded on depart pending retirement,” he mentioned.

Mutharika, of the governing Democratic Folks’s Get together (DPP), was declared the winner within the Could 21, 2019 elections with 38.57 p.c of the favored vote, in opposition to 35.41 p.c garnered by Chakwera and 20.24 p.c for Saulos Chilima, the nation’s former vp.

Each Chakwera and Chilima rejected the outcomes that returned Mutharika to energy and filed a petition to the Excessive Court docket asking it to nullify the outcomes.

On February 3,  the Constitutional Court docket annulled the vote, citing “widespread, systematic and grave” irregularities, which included outcome sheets with sections blotted out or altered with correction fluid.

Al Jazeera and information companies

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