Uganda: Supreme Court allows law dons to join election petition

President Yoweri Museveni receiving the election petition from Amama Mbabazi's legal team last weekend in Kampala.

President Yoweri Museveni receiving the election petition from Amama Mbabazi’s legal team last weekend in Kampala.

The Supreme Court of Uganda has ruled on the amicus curiae application of nine law professors from Makerere University who sought to join an election petition filed by former Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi who is challenging President Yoweri Museveni’s victory in last month’s controversial polls.

But the same court ruled against an application filed by nine civil society groups seeking to join the petition as friends of court, on grounds that they lacked the requirements to be admitted as amicus curiae.

The Makerere University dons who applied to join the petition as friends of court include; Prof. Oloka-Onyango, Dr Kakungulu Mayambala, Prof. Sylivia Tamale, Daniel Ngabirano Dr. Ronald Naluwaire, Dr. Rose Nakayi, Dr. Busingye Kabumba and Daniel Ruhweza.

“We are satisfied that the applicants’ brief raises novel issues and their participation would aid the court.” “We are satisfied that the applicants have expertise in issues such as human rights, good governance,” Justice Lillian Tibatemwa who read the ruling on behalf of the nine justices of the Supreme Court hearing the petition said. The University Professors are now are expected to file their application on March 17.

The Deputy Attorney General Adolf Mwesigye, representative of the Attorney General, one of the respondent in the petition, had earlier he objected to the application of the dons saying that their expertise goes beyond what court was seeking to address.

“ For that matter , having demonstrated that the applicants are clearly biased against the Attorney General, they don’t qualify under the principles set out in the cases we have shown that demand the amicus curiae must be impartial,” he told court .

On the application of civil society groups, Justice Stella Arach-Amoko who read out the ruling said that the Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) National Coordinator and also lead petitioner Crispy Kaheru lacked the necessary expertise on the issues before court and also that their submissions which are basing on observation reports they made during the elections can be submitted to the main petitioner for presentation.

The civil society organizations which include Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI), Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA-Uganda), Chapter Four Uganda, Human Rights Network Uganda, Center for Constitutional Governance, Kituo Cha Katiba- Eastern Africa Center for Constitutional Development, Legal Aid Service Providers Network Uganda and Transparency International had sought to join the petition to help Court in determining the case.But their application was dismissed with no costs.

During cross examination by Amama Mbabazi’s lead lawyer Muhammad Mbabazi, the Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Dr Badru Kiggundu failed to explain the number of voters that voted using the bio metric machine, telling court that the machine was not designed to capture that information.

Court adjourned to Tuesday when the petitioners will continue with their submissions. Court is expected to pronounce itself in 16 days. Amama Mbabazi is challenging the February 18th Presidential elections in which President Yoweri Museveni was declared winner for a fifth term of office. President Yoweri Museveni as an individual, the Attorney General and the Electoral Commission are the three respondents in this petition.