Investigations

Why judges dismissed Bobi Wine’s bid to amend election petition

Counsel Medard Ssegona denies smuggling other aspects into Bobi Wine’s petition and says they were missing in the original petition because his client was under arrest most of the 15 days in which he should have filed the petition (PHOTO/NBS Television).

KAMPALA — The Supreme Court has dismissed an application in which the National Unity Platform (NUP) former presidential candidate sought to amend his petition challenging the victory of the incumbent President Yoweri Museveni in the just concluded presidential elections.

In its ruling, the panel of nine Supreme Court Justices led by the Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo noted that the application raises new matters which were not part of Kyagulanyi’s original application.

They 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. They 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 encouraged Kyagulanyi through his lawyers to bring evidence during the hearing supporting the said issues which are already in the original petition. They promised to offer a detailed explanation in the decision arising from the main petition. Kyagulanyi’s lawyers led by Medard Lubega Sseggona told journalists that they are dissatisfied with the court decision. He however said that they have nothing to do since the Supreme Court is the last judicial structure of the country.

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 application, Kyagulanyi said the elections were marred with voter bribery, intimidation, arrests of his agents, violence that resulted into death and favouritism among others. He asked court to overturn Museveni’s victory and order fresh elections. But since he had spent 10 days under house arrest yet the law provides that presidential election petitions be filed within 15 days, Kyagulanyi couldn’t file the application in time since he was confined by security at his residence.

He however told the court after filing the application that he had come across new evidence of noncompliance with electoral laws by Museveni and wanted to bring it to the attention of the court for further investigations. Earlier, the three respondents to the application namely Museveni, Electoral Commission and Attorney General had asked the court to dismiss the application with costs on grounds that the law governing presidential election petitions don’t permit for amendments to the application to introduce new matters.

Electoral Commission was represented by lawyers led by Joseph Matsiko, Eric Sabiiti and Alfred Okello Oryem.

Museveni was represented by Ebert Byenkya while the Attorney General William Byaruhanga and Solicitor General Francis Atooke represented the government. The court is scheduled to start hearing the main petition in the parking yard of the Supreme Court on Thursday this week under tents because of Covid-19 restrictions.

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