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Petition Highlights – Day 3 | Museveni’s Day In Court – His Lawyers Call For Dismissal of The Electoral Petition With Costs!

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Posted March 17, 2016 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Uganda - The Election Aftermath ~ 1,450 views

     

The Observer — The legal team of President Yoweri Museveni has denied allegations of voter bribery and intimidation leveled against him in the presidential election petition filed by independent presidential candidate, Amama Mbabazi.

In his petition before the Supreme court, Mbabazi accused Museveni of influencing voters through the distribution of hoes, Shs 250,000 to each of the 60,000 villages in the country, organizing people to commit offences, interfere with electioneering activities and threatening him and his supporters.

However, Museveni’s lead lawyer, Didas Nkuruzinza, has denied all the accusations, saying the petitioner didn’t adduce any evidence to support the allegations. On the alleged distribution of hoes to bribe voters, Nkuruzinza said Museveni didn’t personally or through his agents or through authorisation or approval give hoes to voters in order to vote for him.

He produced the ministerial policy statements for the 2013/2014, 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 financial years, showing that the distribution of hoes was an ongoing government programme.

Nkuruzinza also said Museveni promised the people in Terego hoes after the locals said in order to boost education, in addition to the Universal Primary Education (UPE), provision of books and pads, every family would manage to survive if it had hoes.

He said Museveni made the statement in his capacity as a president.

“A president remains a president even if he is a candidate,” he argued. On the accusations of distributing Shs 250,000 to all village councils, Nkuruzinza said the money was meant for party activities, adding that no political party can survive without financing its officials and activities.

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1st Respondent [Museveni] lawyers share a light moment

He said there is no evidence to sustain allegations that Museveni bribed voters. Nkuruzinza also dismissed claims that Museveni organised people to disrupt Mbabazi’s electioneering activities, saying there was no evidence him to the allegations.

On threatening Mbabazi and his supporters by using derogatory language in Mbale, in which he said those who attacked NRM supporters in Ntungamo had “touched the anus of a leopard”, Nkuruzinza said the words were not derogatory, but graphic imagery in Kinyankole meaning that anybody breaking the law and engaging in acts of violence will be arrested to face the law.

He said Museveni didn’t make reference to the petitioner nor his supporters, but only referred to those who were breaking the law. He said Museveni made the remarks in his capacity as the President and that he had been “incensed” that one group of people could attack another because of their political beliefs.

On the affidavit of a one Duncan Mutogo who claimed to have trained in the use of the Biometric Voter Verification Kit (BVVK) machines and had said that it actually says it takes a minimum of two minutes to verify a voter, Joseph Matsiko another of Museveni’s lawyers said Mutogo did not indicate where and who organised the training.

Matsiko further added that Mutogo did not attach proof of qualification despite claims that he is an IT technician. Matsiko directed court to the affidavit of Mugera who said voter verification on the BVVK indeed takes 30 seconds – and he is a qualified IT expert who attached proof of his qualification.

On announcing results without declaration of results (DR) forms, another of the 1st respondent’s lawyers Kiryowa Kiwanuka said there is no law that prohibits the Electoral Commission to rely and announce results using electronic results like it did.

Kiwanuka said it was not enough for the petitioner to claim that the results were invalid just because they did not witness the tallying. Kiwanuka said the candidates or their agents are allowed at the polling stations and then later at the district tally centre and can challenge the announced results before they are tallied and submitted to the national tally centre.

He said there was no evidence before court that the petitioner had challenged the results at any of the polling stations nor submitted evidence that what the EC announced was different from the results that his own agents had. Kiwanuka who at some point appeared to be defending the second respondent (Electoral Commission) more than his own lawyer, was even asked by the chief justice whether he was now not venturing into the interests of the EC, to which he replied that “it is a tight rope” between defending the first respondent and the second respondent.

MATERIAL DELAYS

On delay in the delivery of election materials in Wakiso and Kampala, Kiwanuka said while it was true that the materials were delivered late, there was no evidence that it was done by the Electoral Commission so as to favour the president.

Kiwanuka said the delay was rather caused by the “miscalculation” on the part of the EC which started with printing electoral materials of the furthest areas like Kaabong first before those of the nearest points. Kiwanuka said that the Commission had planned to print electoral materials within six days but ended up taking nine days.

He said there was no evidence to show that like the petitioner claims that over one million voters were disenfranchised. He said the the petitioner had also not availed to court evidence to show that the delays in delivery of voting materials affected any voter in Wakiso and Kampala.

On the allegation that Museveni, after the Ntungamo clashes between his supporters and that of Mbabazi, threatened that those who beat up his supporters had “touched the anus of a leopard”, Matsiko said the petitioner neither pleaded it nor reported the actual words said.

He said it should be treated as an accusation and defamation which requires that the claimant produce the actual words spoken. When challenged by the Chief Justice Bart Katureebe that the allegation referred to the act of the first respondent, Matsiko said since the petitioner ought to have provided the entire statement and plead that reference was made to him. Related to that another Museveni lawyer, Ebert Byenkya said the law only prohibits candidates from making statement of personal character but not political statements. He said, for example it is allowed to say that “my challenger can not lead the country”.

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On claims that Museveni threatened war if not elected, Matsiko said even that was not pleaded verbatim yet it is a requirement. When challenged by Justice Eldad Mwangushya that President Museveni accepted that he made the statement, Matsiko said the burden rests with the petitioner to which Mwambutsya said the burden does not shift at all.

On the allegation that Museveni threatened injury or harm, in reference to Mbabazi’s bodyguard Christopher Aine whose disappearance remains a mystery, Matsiko said Museveni did not threaten anybody when he said “those who beat up people in Ntungamo will pay for their actions”.

On allegations of intimidation of other candidates, use of ungazzetted polling stations, interference with electioneering, interference with electioneering by members of the First Family, intimidation by the police and other security agencies, preventing consultations, chasing of agents from polling stations, ballot stuffing, campaigning on voting day, delayed counting and tallying, breach of secret balloting, and underage voting, Matsiko said there are no evidences because there are no particulars, no mention of when and where and no corroborations.

On unequal treatment of some candidates by state media, in particular Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) and New Vision Group, Matsiko said there is no evidence because the petitioner never sought media coverage. Justice Mwangushya then said if the Constitution says UBC should cover everything it cannot be incumbent upon the candidate to seek coverage.

Matsiko insisted that Mbabazi never attached a report to support this claim. He said New Vision CEO Robert Kabushenga did say in his affidavit that they covered the candidates fairly, accurately and in a balanced manner, citing that Museveni had 30.2 percent front-page coverage compared to Mbabazi at 27.8 percent and that He it should not be forgotten that Museveni is also the president.

Matsiko also cited reports by African Centre for Media Excellence, which carried out surveys on media coverage of presidential candidates, which talked of balanced coverage, although he never gave specifics.

The Museveni team also denied allegations that government resources were used to favour Museveni’s candidature. Matsiko said there was no evidence that Jennifer Musisi, the Executive Director of Kampala Capital City Authority and Allen Kagina of Uganda National Roads Authority campaigned for Museveni but were instead performing their duties.

On the blockage of social media, Matsiko defended the blocking of social media on voting day and after. He said it was appropriate to block the three social media platforms provided they were a threat to national security.

But Justice Mwangushya wondered why social media would be blocked at the time when the Electoral Commission had claimed that they were moving to better technology in order to improve transparency.

Matsiko answered that only Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp were blocked and other internet platforms and traditional media were not blocked, prompting the Chief Justice Katureebe to wonder why then the national security threats were not applicable to the other media channels. Matsiko answered that there was no evidence pointing to other channels.

On allegations that the petitioner’s electioneering in Fort Portal was disrupted by a helicopter, Matsiko said there is no evidence, be it video evidence, as well as no evidence of disruption or chaos at his rally. He said that Mbabazi’s rally was poorly attended because of the helicopter was a gross exaggeration saying the low attendance was because due to heavy rains.

He concluded that Mbabazi’s allegations were based on hearsay and not supported by evidence. Byenkya claimed that petitioner had admitted that he had struggled to collect evidence within 10 days after the announcement of the results, a fact that was evident in court but he cited a previous the 2006 election petition ruling where Justice Joseph Mulenga said that was not excuse enough to present to court low quality evidence. As such the lawyers prayed that court dismisses the petition with costs.

Source — The Uganda Observer Report and NBS Television News video.


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Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.

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