Zambian President Edgar Lungu.Photo credit/

Zambia’s Constitutional Court has thrown out opposition’s petition challenging President Edgar Lungu’s re-election, saying the 14-day deadline has passed.

The development now paves the way for Mr Lungu to be sworn in.

Earlier, a government official had said the Constitutional Court’s extension beyond a 14-day deadline of the opposition’s legal challenge to the vote, filed by rival Hakainde Hichilema, is illegal.

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A law introduced in January says the winner of a presidential vote cannot be sworn in if their victory is contested in a court, and Lungu’s inauguration after the August 11 election was postponed after Hichilema challenged the result in court, saying the vote was rigged.

When his lawyers quit, Zambia’s Constitutional Court granted Hichilema an extension to hear and rule on the case beyond last Friday’s cut-off date to give him more time to present his case.

But the government source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the extension was in breach of Zambia’s laws.

“The constitutional provision … says that they cannot go beyond 14 days and hearing the case beyond last Friday means they will be hearing the case outside the constitutional provision,” he said.

A presidential spokesman said Lungu was consulting his lawyers over the court extension, and that the government would issue a statement today.

This is the second election petition in Africa to be thrown out this year, after the one in Uganda where the Supreme Court threw out the petition filed by former presidential aspirant John Patrick Amama Mbabazi, challenging the re-election of President Yoweri Museveni.

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