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Poll Petition | Where it all started, how it played out – Daily Monitor

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Posted March 30, 2016 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Uganda Post Election ~ 1,412 views

     

Empty seats of the bench at the Supreme Court in Kampala. Photo by Eric Dominic Bukenya.

Empty seats of the bench at the Supreme Court in Kampala. Photo by Eric Dominic Bukenya.

Kampala. As the clock ticked, the Dr Kizza Besigye and Amama Mbabazi teams struggled with the idea of filing a joint petition. This possibility fell through at Lutete, on the road to Kasangati, when police stopped Mr Mbabazi and a team of Dr Besigye lawyers from proceeding to the FDC leader’s home for a petition-planning meeting. Frustrated, Dr Besigye’s lawyer, David Mpanga, took to twitter and said he would not be representing his client under the circumstances. This tweet was the first indication that the FDC team had decided not to go to court. Mr Mbabazi, however, kept everyone guessing. Up to the deadline, it was not clear he would petition.

At 5pm, the deadline, there was no petition. Then at five minutes past, Mr Severino Twinobusingye burst through the Supreme Court gates on foot. Mr Mbabazi’s lawyer had delivered the petition.  Time was of the essence and all the respondents, Mr Yoweri Museveni, the Electoral Commission and the Attorney General, had to be served the petition in time. The bench had just 30 days to hear the case but not before a pre-hearing conference—where the parties would agree on the issues to argue.

March 7: 10am:
The gong sounds and the coram of nine justices, with Justice Faith Mwondha leading and Lillian Tibatwemwa-Ekirikubinza at the rear, sweep into the courtroom in single file. The Deputy Attorney General, Mr Mwesigwa Rukutana, in his role as head of the Bar, introduced counsel from all sides to the Bench.

On Mr Mbabazi’s team was Mr Mohmed Mbabazi as lead counsel. He was to be helped by Mr Twinobusingye, Mr Asuman Basalirwa, Mr Michael Akampurira and Mr Jude Byamukama. It was a small team, not the 60 lawyers that had earlier been talked about in the media. On Mr Museveni’s team was Mr Didas Nkurunziza as lead counsel assisted by Mr Peter Kabatsi, Mr Joseph Matsiko, Mr Kiryowa Kiwanuka, Mr Ebert Byenkya and Mr Edwin Karugire. Most of the other lawyers took the back seats in court and only observed the proceedings.

The Electoral Commission (EC) was led by lawyer Enos Tumusiime. He was, among others, helped by Mr Okello Oryem, Mr Enoch Barata, Mr Elison Karuhanga and Mr McDusman Kabega.  The Rukutana team did all the arguing for the third respondent, the Attorney General.  The application by the Mbabazi team to amend the petition took both the Bench and the respondents’ counsel by surprise. After a detailed justification and apologising to court for the surprise, the petitioners succeeded in the application. It was back to square one. The respondents had to be served afresh and another date had to be set for the pre-hearing.

March 10: 10am:
It was a full court. Same representation on all sides. two new applications had been filed. Makerere University law professors and civil society had applied to be amici curiae or friends of court. Court heard their arguments before setting the ruling for Monday, March 14— the academicians were admitted but civil society were not as lucky. At the end of the prehearing conference, all the sides agreed on six issues to interrogate. The grounds were set and the lawyers were ready to go into the arguments.

March 14 10am:
EC chairman Badru Kiggundu arrived at the court with his entire top management team, and as everyone waited for court to start, he shook hands with whoever moved towards him. He came, just in case, they wanted him up in the witness stand. Indeed, Mr Mohmed Mbabazi did not wait a second; he called him up just as court started.

Throughout the cross-examination, Mr Kiggundu denied any wrong-doing by the Electoral Commission and skirted around any push to avail the biometric voters verification machines that were used during the election, saying they were still out in the field doing election work and therefore information about the presidential election couldn’t be retrieved for audit. The main hearing lasted only four days and Mr Kiggundu was the only witness who was cross-examined.

Mbabazi’s team had two days to make their case. Their attempt to seek for a window to submit more affidavits, reasoning that some of their evidence had been lost in a burglary of their lawyers’ chambers a day earlier was rejected by the Museveni team and the Bench ruled in their favour. =Each time Mr Mbabazi’s team made an accusation at the Bar, the Museveni team would ether rise up and ask for a supporting affidavit or they would ask that the allegation be thrown out or withdrawn for lack of supporting evidence.  Now, all the eyes are fixed on the nine justices of the highest court in the land led by Chief Justice Bart Katureebe. The day of reckoning is today.

The six issues to interrogate in court

(1) Whether there was non-compliance with provisions of the Presidential Elections Act and the Electoral Commission Act in the conduct of the 2016 presidential election.
(2) Whether the said election was not conducted in compliance with the principles laid down in the provisions in the two Acts.
(3) Whether such non-compliance affected the presidential election results in a substantial manner
(4) Whether there were offences committed under the Presidential Elections Act by Museveni personally or with his knowledge and consent or approval.

(5) Whether it was right to include the Attorney General in the case as a party to the petition.
(6) Whether Mbabazi is entitled to any of the reliefs sought.
They also agreed on three facts
(1) That there was a presidential election conducted by the Electoral Commission on February 18.
(2) That on February 20, 2016, Mr Museveni was declared as validly elected president with 5,617,503 votes, representing 60.75 per cent of the valid votes and;
(3) That on the same day, Mr Mbabazi was declared to have polled 132,574 votes, representing 1.43 per cent of the valid votes.

Source — Daily Monitor.


About the Author

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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