The stage is set for a legal battle in Uganda’s Supreme Court as Robert Kyagulanyi’s lawyers battle President Yoweri Museveni’s lawyers for the legitimate winner of the 14th January Presidential elections.
The Chief Justice, Alphonse Owiny Dollo, has also declared that the ruling will be delivered on March 18th, 2021 with a string of legal proceedings expected to start on 24th February 2021.
However, Kyagulanyi’s lawyers still think they would have had an easy case if the Supreme Court had not denied them their “killer punch” -an amendment challenging Museveni’s eligibility to stand in the 2021 presidential elections. This particular issue was part of an array of amendments Bobi’s lawyers wanted to introduce to the main petition filed on January 1st, 2020.
The Supreme Court judges led by Chief Justice Alphonse Owiny Dollo however rejected the amendments citing the issue of time, and that some of the issues were already covered in the original petition and therefore there is no need to amend them.
Kyagulanyi’s lawyers led by Medard Lubega Sseggona told journalists that they are dissatisfied with the court decision.
Anthony Wameli, one of Bobi’s lawyers, told this website that had the Supreme Court not rejected the amendment especially one that contests Museveni’s qualifications to stand, the outcome would have been more favorable to their client.
According to Wameli and his learned friends, Section 3 of the Constitution, Article 102(2)(b) (as amended) out-rightly disqualifies Museveni from the race.
Article 102(2) state that; A person is not qualified for election as President if that person- (b) is holding or acting in an office the functions of which involve a responsibility for or in connection with the conduct of an election.
Bobi’s lawyers contend that by virtue of his office as the Head of State, President Museveni had several responsibilities with regard to the conduct of 2021 elections including provision of security to the election since he is the Commander in Chief of armed forces.
“The Electoral Commission Act clearly states how presidential candidates are entitled to security from state bodies like Police and the army yet the president is the head of state. This gives the Museveni the responsibility to provide the Electoral Commission with security for presidential candidates” Wameli said.
“Similarly, the president as head of executive and constitutionally a minister for finance is charged with the responsibility of providing finances for the Electoral Commission which automatically puts his responsibilities in contrast with Article 102(2)(b)” He added.
Basing on this provision, Wameli says Museveni would have relinquished the office of president prior to nominations which was not the case and therefore his nomination was an illegality.
In determining the application on Tuesday, Supreme Court judges rejected this particular amendment which Wameli says was a huge setback to Bobi’s petition.
The judges noted that the challenge of Museveni’s qualification to stand for the presidency without relinquishing his powers as president is purely a new matter that was not in the original petition. To them, this is contrary to the laws governing presidential election petitions that follow strict and fixed timelines.
Regarding other amendments, the judges also noted that issues regarding amendments on irregularities arising from electoral processes such as during transmission of declaration result forms and the electoral offences allegedly committed by Museveni are already covered in the original petition, arguing that there is no need to amend them.
In their ruling read by Justice Stellah Arach Amoko, the Justices however encouraged Kyagulanyi through his lawyers to bring evidence during the hearing supporting the said issues which are already in the original petition.
Kyagulanyi ran to court after the Electoral Commission declared Museveni the winner of the January 14th, 2021 presidential elections. According to poll results announced by the electoral commission chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama, Museveni garnered 58 percent of the total votes cast against Kyagulanyi’s 35 percent.
In his petition, Kyagulanyi said the elections were marred with voter bribery, intimidation, arrests of his agents, violence that resulted into death and favoritism among others. He asked court to overturn Museveni’s victory and order fresh elections.