SUPREME COURT TO HEAR THE 2021 PRESIDENTIAL PETITION ON FEBRUARY 24th ,SETS TOUGH CONDITIONS TO DETERMINE MATTER WITHIN THE 45 -DAYS CONSTITUTIONAL DEADLINE

The Supreme Court , presided over by the Chief Justice ,A. Owiny Dollo , has set February 24th the hearing date for the 2021 Presidential petition.

At a pre-hearing scheduling conference for the petition filed by National Unity Party President Robert Kyagulanyi challenging Yoweri Museveni’s election as president in the just-concluded polls- the court set tight deadlines in which the parties have been allowed to file all materials and evidence pertaining to the case and the court shall remain open during weekends to ensure the matter is heard expeditiously .

Justice Owiny Dollo called for professionalism by all the counsel- noting that they primarily owe a duty to the court first and the parties in the case .He also reminded the parties about the country’s turbulent past and urged them to abandon the confrontational tendencies while arguing their case. “The parties have decided to bring their grievances here (court) and not the market place . Let us investigate , inquire into the merits of the arguments presented by either party and come to a conclusion in a professional manner ,” the Chief Justice stated before adjourning the session .

Lead counsel for the petitioner Hon. Learned Counsel Lubega Medard Sseggona told court that they shall file well over 100 affidavits as evidence in support of their case while the head of the bar and Attorney General ,Learned Senior Counsel William Byaruhanga and one of the respondents said that they are ready to reply, challenge and defend themselves against all the grounds and offences laid out in the petition.

Petition

In the petition, Kyagulanyi who came second in the 2021 presidential election with 3631437 votes representing 35.08% of the total valid votes says the campaigns and the subsequent elections were not free and fair, rendering the outcome nugatory.

“The election was invalid on grounds that it was not conducted in accordance with the principles laid down in the provision of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, the Presidential Elections Act and the Electoral Commission Act,”Kyagulanyi says in his petition and supporting affidavits in evidential support.

“Contrary to section 3 and 2 of the Presidential Elections Act, officers of the Uganda Police Force and the UPDF on several occasions and in several parts of the country prevented the petitioner from carrying out his nationwide consultations in preparation for his nomination as a presidential candidate.”

Kyagulanyi also accuses the Electoral Commission of issuing campaign guidelines that hindered a free and fair campaign to his disadvantage but on the other hand enforced the same to favour of NRM’s Yoweri Museveni.

“Contrary to articles 1, 8A, 20(2), 28, 29,38 and 43 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda , the Presidential Elections Act and the Electoral Commission Act, through a press statement dated December 26,2020 the second respondent(Electoral Commission) arbitrarily, irrationally and indefinitely banned election campaign meetings in Kampala capital city, districts and cities of Jinja,Kabale, Kalungu, Masaka, Tororo, Luweero, Wakiso , greater Mukono,Mbarara, Kabarole, Kasese and Kazo thereby frustrating the petitioner’s right to associate, assemble and interface with the electorate.”

The petitioner says EC failed to deal with multiple voting and ballot stuffing in various parts of the country during the elections whereas the body also failed to ascertain, transmit, tabulate and declare the actual results of the presidential elections with transparency.

A panel of nine justices of the Supreme Court led by the Chief Justice Alphonse Owiny-Dollo will hear the petition.

The other justices on the panel include Faith Mwondha, Paul Mugamba, Esther Kisaakye, Stella Arach Amoko, Rubby Opio Aweri, Percy Tuhaise, Mike Chibita and Ezekiel Muhanguzi. Lady Justice Prof. Lillian Tibatemwa Ekirikubinza due to health reasons excused herself and will not be part of the coram of the Justices of the Supreme court who will determine the matters.

MOSES SSERWANGA

Writer is a media and communications consultant And Advocate of the High Court of Uganda

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