Uganda presidential candidate to drag electoral commission to the ICC

Mbabazi's supporters running from police teargas

Mbabazi’s supporters running from police teargas

The legal team for The Democratic Alliance (TDA) presidential Amama Mbabazi has threatened to file suit against Uganda’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) at the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) over the body’s alleged failure to investigate security harassment, and police brutality against the candidate.

In a three-page letter released Thursday, Mbabazi’s  lawyers notified the IEC of their intent to refer their case to the ICC unless their claims of the police disrupting the candidate’s rallies are attended to in seven days.

“This letter therefore serves as a final reminder for you to act upon all present and past within seven days next after receipt hereof,” the letter obtained by Afrika Reporter reads in part, adding “in the event of non-compliance, we are under firm instructions to refer this matter to the ICC for investigation and prosecution.”

Muwema & Co. Advocates and Solicitors allege in the letter that despite repeated complaints of government harassment of their candidate, disruption of rallies by government agents and security forces, defacement of posters, and intimidation and harassment of Mbabazi’s supporters, the electoral commission has neither responded to nor investigated the incidents.

Mbabazi’s team singles out month’s cases in Masaka, Hoima, Mukono, Kasese and Fort Portal in which various government organs and personnel disrupted the former Prime Minister’s campaign events.

The lawyers further accuse the electoral commission of systematically ignoring their claims writing “this dearth of good electoral management is inexcusable”.

In the same letter, they remind the commission of its constitutional duties to receive, examine, seriously act upon all election-related grievances, and despite the country’s high court recently ruling it’s the IEC’s responsibility to address election complaints, the Uganda electoral commission has been non-responsive to Mbabazi’s.

Invoking Article 17 of the 2002 Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC), the attorneys put officials at the IEC on notice that they will be pursuing Justice at the Hague because they have sought redress in Uganda in vain.

Mr. Mbabazi, a long time ally of President Yoweri Musseveni, is currently challenging his former colleague and boss for the highest office in the land.

The two erstwhile allies started falling out when Mbabazi began showing interest in the presidency. The police thwarted his “consultative meetings” with voters in Mbale while still in the NRM in July, and he was arrested and detained along with Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).

After trying several times to compete with President Museveni within the ruling party NRM to no success, Mbabazi opted to run as an independent at the end of July, and he was endorsed by the opposition coalition, The Democratic Alliance (TDA) as their choice for president.

President Museveni, Amama Mbabazi, and Kizza Besigye are the three major candidates contesting for the presidency and the trio is currently traversing the country canvassing for votes, but Museveni was quoted as saying he “wont hand over power” to either Mbabazi or Besigye because the pair has no mission and vision.

“If these fellows like Besigye, if I was sure that they would have those targets, maybe I would say OK, let them continue. But they don’t have those targets. Even when I am in charge, you find them doing their own different things. So, how can I abandon Uganda to people who have no mission?” Museveni asked as he addressed the press in Arua, Northern Uganda Thursday.

Both Mbabazi and Besigye have openly accused the electoral commission, the police, and the military for favouring President Museveni and the NRM.

Last month, Mbabazi rebuked Uganda police for harassing and “brutalizing” his fellow candidate Besigye and his supporters as they drove to a campaign rally in Western Uganda.

“I condemn the wilful police brutality meted out against the FDC Presidential aspirant Dr. Kizza Besigye and his colleagues of FDC this past Saturday (October 10) on their way to a public meeting in Rukungiri,” Mbabazi said adding “there is no excuse whatsoever for this police violence. We call on Government to rein in the state police who have been brutalising the innocent public.”