By PERPETUAL SICHIKWENKWE –
THE petition in which four opposition political party leaders have asked the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) to determine whether or not President Edgar Lungu is eligible to contest the 2021 presidential election awaits judgement after the conclusion of submissions by opposing parties yesterday.
ConCourt president Hildah Chibomba announced after Christian Democratic Party leader Dan Pule and three others versus the Attorney General and the Patriotic Front as respondents together with interested parties, the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) and the United Party for National Development (UPND) closed their arguments yesterday, that judgement would be delivered on a date to be advised to the parties.
On Monday, Attorney General, Likando Kalaluka urged the ConCourt to speed up the hearing and determination of the matter before the political environment got too charged in the run-up to 2021.
In their continued submissions and responses to the LAZ and the UPND who insisted that Mr Lungu was not eligible to contest the 2021 elections as he had held the office of the Presidency twice, one of Mr Lungu’s lawyers Milingo Lungu urged the court to respond to Dr Pule’s first question in the petition in the negative and allow him to contest the elections.
Dr Pule and others had in their petition posed two questions to the ConCourt: one being whether President Lungu would have served two full terms at the expiry of his current term and whether he was eligible to stand as a presidential candidate in 2021.
President Lungu’s lawyers have asked the court to respond in the negative to the first question and in the positive to the second question and declare that Mr Lungu was eligible to stand in 2021.
Another lawyer representing Mr Lungu, Dickson Jere said the term served by the incumbent between 2015 and 2016 did not constitute a full term as it failed the threshold of three years, and as such, the president was eligible to contest.
Chewe Bwalya another lawyer representing Mr Lungu said Article 106 of the Constitution did not expressively state how the inherited term served by President Lungu should be treated.
Mr Bwalya said it was for this reason that Dr Pule and others were seeking the interpretation of the law by the court.
He said the four leaders were only asking the court to interpret the law and not to re-write the Constitution.
During Monday’s submissions, LAZ’S lawyer John Sangwa argued that what was at play in the matter was that the President Lungu was refusing to bound by the law.
Mr Sangwa said that the four opposition leaders had no locus standi to take the matter to
court on behalf of President Lungu and not even the PF because the issue of eligibility was affecting him individually.
Mr Sangwa said that being the case, the Constitutional court could not pronounce itself on the questions which had not been raised by Mr Lungu.
United Party for National Development ( UPND ) lawyer Keith Mweemba said that said that the questions brought by Dr Pule and others were superfluous as they were neither here nor there.