Scores of lawyers marched in several cities on Wednesday in protest against the government’s decision last week to send Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda on forced leave pending retirement and the alleged attempt to limit the independence of the judiciary.The lawyers gathered in the capital Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu to voice their concern about President Peter Mutharika’s alleged attempt to interfere with the independence of the judiciary.
Organisers said the demonstrations were organised in defence of the judiciary and respect for the rule of law ahead of a tense presidential election rerun set for June 23.
The demonstrations came in the wake of the decision by the government to send Nyirenda and Supreme Court judge Edward Twea on leave two weeks ago pending retirement.
The legal fraternity and government critics have however condemned the move, arguing that it was an attempt by Mutharika to get back at the judiciary for not protecting him during a court battle in which the opposition challenged the outcome of last year’s presidential poll that had been won by Mutharika.
The Constitutional Court nullified the outcome of the presidential poll in February and ordered fresh elections within 150 days.
Mutharika challenged the nullification in the Supreme Court and Nyirenda and Twea were part of the seven-judge panel that upheld the nullification of the 2019 presidential election.
Following the nullification, Mutharika has been attacking the courts saying the judges did not prove that the irregularities affected the results if the elections.
He has also been claiming that judges are part of a plot for regime change.