The notice of the application by Mr Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, seeking for withdrawal of the presidential petition currently before the Supreme Court, has been issued in the national gazette paving way for it’s hearing expected on Tuesday.
On Thursday last week, Chief Justice Alphonse Owiny Dollo had tentatively set today as the D-day for hearing of the petition in case the notice is published in the national gazette on Friday. This however did not happen until today (Monday) when the notice came out which is also unusual since the gazette normally comes out on Friday.
Kyagualanyi last week moved the court to annul the victory of President Museveni in the 14th January election. Dollo had however stated that the date for hearing would depend on when the notice would be issued in the gazette. Through his lawyers, led by Medard Lubega Sseggona, Kyagulanyi on Thursday filed a miscellaneous application number 005 of 2021 asking leave of court to withdraw the petition as a whole.
“Notice is hereby given that application has been made to the Supreme Court of Uganda for leave of court to withdraw the petition presented by Kyagulanyi Ssentamu Robert touching the election to the office of the President of Yoweri Museveni Tibuhaburwa Kaguta…” the notice in today’s copy reads part.
According to Mr Solomon Muyita, the principal communications officer for the Judiciary, the hearing of the application may be concluded tomorrow though he could not commit himself on the date. Mr Muyita says whereas the notice is out, the judiciary is yet to fix the date for hearing Kyagulanyi’s application as judges were still held up in a meeting.
He however stated that even if the hearing of the application can be concluded in one day which is possible according to him, the process to withdraw goes on until all the procedures laid out in the law are exhausted.
Mr Muyita says the court ruling can go either way and the law caters for responses from the petitioners who also have a right to object.
“You see depending one side is asking to withdraw but we need to listen to the other side. If they object and court agrees with them, they can say we are not withdrawing” he said.
He also stated that in case the withdrawal is allowed, the parties in the petition will have to go into “taxation” where respondents have to file their bill of costs and the court again has to fix a hearing for the same.
“The process is still on. let’s see how it comes out” Mr Muyita noted.
In his application, Kyagulanyi lists several reasons for withdrawing the petition that are supported with arguments in an affidavit of 22 paragraphs. According to Kyagulanyi, his witnesses were abducted, tortured, harassed, and intimidated by state security operatives while President, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, and Attorney General watched on. The three are first and third respondents to the presidential elections petition respectively.
He also argues that the organs of the state like the Uganda Police Force and National Identification of Registrations of Persons Authority -NIRA, are being used by the respondents to investigate and infringe on his privacy and that of his witnesses.
The musician turned politician also alleges that the court has applied the rules governing the Presidential Election Petitions to his disadvantage. He cites the court’s decision rejecting his application to amending his pleadings
He said the unusual circumstances included the fact that his lawyers were operating mobile law firms due to insecurity and fear that state operatives may steal the evidence like the case was during the Amama Mbabazi Presidential Election Petition in 2016. He also argued that state operatives seized their political party offices under the command of Museveni and the Attorney General’s agents, which made it difficult for him to file relevant affidavits and evidence in support of his petition on time.
“The Petitioner lost time during the illegal house detention. But this honorable court is more inclined towards the strict timelines, which has disadvantaged the Petitioner to the disadvantage of the respondents”, reads the application in part. In his affidavit supporting the application, Kyagulanyi’s says the decision to withdraw the Petition has been influenced by the foregoing factors and not by any corrupt bargain or consideration from the respondents or any other person.
According to Section 20 Subsection 3 of the Presidential Elections Act, “an application for leave to withdraw a petition shall be supported by an affidavit of the Petitioner and his or her advocate, if any stating to the best of their knowledge and belief that no agreement or terms or of any kind has or have been made or undertaking made in relation to the petition or, if any lawful agreement has been made, stating the terms of the agreement.”
He cited alleged bias by the justices when they rejected his amended petition and additional evidence to strengthen his case and arrest of his key witnesses as some of the reasons for his decision to abandon the petition. He instead said he was headed to the court of public opinion.
However, another presidential candidate Willy Mayambala, last week wrote to the Supreme Court seeking to block the withdrawal of Kyagulanyi’s petition. In the February 25 letter, Mr Mayambala claims he wants to takeover the case and push it to the end. The Supreme Court through it’s registrar advised Mayambala to formally file an application to the effect.
By press time, no confirmation had been received as to whether Mayambala has lodged this application with the court.