Uganda: former presidential candidate challenges election results in court
The Supreme Court of Uganda will next week start hearing a petition filed by one of the losers in last month’s presidential election John Patrick Amama Mbabazi challenging the legality and validity of the electoral process.
In the petition filed through his lawyers on Tuesday Evening ahead of the 10 day deadline, the former premier and long term friend of the Ugandan leader accuse the country’s Electoral Commission of failure to comply with the electoral laws, which he contends disfranchised many Ugandans of their right to vote.
“In some areas people started voting at 8pm and ended at 1am, one could not understand what exactly the electoral commission was doing; the electoral materials were not handled properly as required by law. On the other hand there were offences committed by the candidate himself Mr Yoweri Museveni, offences relating to bribery of voters. In fact we don’t need more than that ounce that is proved, the elections are declared null and void there and then,” Severino Twinobusingye, Amama Mbabazi’s lawyer told this website shortly after filing the petition.
“We feel Hon Amama Mbabazi has got a very strong case and we have brought it before the Supreme Court as required by law, and we hope and trust that the court will discharge its obligation independently,” he added.
Twinobusingye said that several of their key witnesses in the case have been intimidated by the state and other arrested. “We have tried to meet the deadline to file the petition amid extremely serious challenges. This afternoon Amama Mbabazi’s home was surrounded by security, yesterday 20 witnesses in this case were arrested and we cannot account for them and we have no idea where they are. We think the challenge has begun and we have tried to meet the deadline despite the challenges,” he added.
He said that the Electoral Commission failed to follow the provisions of the law as the body charged with the management of the elections, citing the lack of a tally centre where the commission was getting results it was announcing at Namboole.
“The Electoral commission did not substantially comply with the law, how can you say that you tallied results when you have no tally centre. Kiggundu the results he was announcing where was he getting them from, these are some of the things we would like him to come and tell court where it was and how he did it because Section 54 of the presidential Elections Act is very clear,” Amama Mbabazi’s lawyer noted.
He said that the non compliance of the law and the offences committed by the candidate himself substantially affected the results and as such court should annul it and have another election all together.
The Registrar of the Supreme Court Tom Chemutai, who received the petition, said that court will serve all the parties involved in the petition and they will be expected to respond within three days before the hearing date is fixed.
“Court will seat over the next 30 days including weekends to expeditiously hear the case because of its importance to the people of Uganda,” he added.
However the main opposition party Forum for Democratic Change failed to meet the presidential elections petition deadline of ten days after the elections.
The party’s National Executive Council held a closed door meeting on Tuesday but failed to agree on the way forward regarding whether or not to file a petition in court..
Forum for Democratic Change President Major General Gregory Mugisha Muntu said that the state frustrated their efforts to go to court after it confined their candidate in his house since election day , denying him access to his lawyers and other party officials as well the intimidation and arrest of officials who served as polling agents across the country.
He however said that officials from both Amama Mbabazi’s camp and FDC will meet and agree on the kind of support that will be required for the petition.
“There are a number of channels we need to pursue and one of them is to keep engaging the diplomatic community as we want to keep the external world abreast with what is happening here because this is not a matter we intend to let President Museveni believe that it is business as usual so there is going to be a lot of engagements,” Mugisha Muntu added.
President Museveni was declared winner for a fifth term of office on 20th February after trouncing his long term political rival and main opposition candidate Dr Col Kizza Besigye by over two million votes in the highly contested and controversial election.
The Chairman of the Electoral Commission Engineer Dr Badru Kiggundu, who is serving his last term as chairman, declared the incumbent President Yoweri Museveni winner with 5,617,503 votes representing 60.75% against Dr Col Kizza Besigye’s 3,270,290 votes representing a 35.37%. Former premier John Patrick Amama Mbabazi came in a distant third with a paltry 1.43%.
“Having obtained the highest number of votes cast in his favour , being more 50% votes , the commission declares Yoweri Kaguta Museveni elected President of the republic of Uganda,” Kiggundu announced at Namboole .
The announcement came amid heavy criticism of the electoral process by both local and international observers as well as the opposition, alleging that lack of Transparency and independence of the electoral commission undermined the election while state actors especially security agencies created an intimidating atmosphere for both the voters and candidates alike.