Court Dismisses Application to Amend Katikamu South Parliamentary Election Petition

Last week, Patricia Magara asked Court to allow her to amend the petition following the consolidation of the case.
The High Court in Kampala has dismissed an application to amend a petition challenging the election of Hassan Kirumira as the Member of Parliament for Katikamu South.

Last week, Patricia Magara asked Court to allow her to amend the petition following the consolidation of the case. The petitioners sued the Electoral Commission and Hassan Kirumira of the National Unity Platform-NUP who was declared winner of the Katikamu South Parliamentary seat.

The second petitioner Alex Nathan Ssenabulya sued only the Electoral Commission and his case was allocated to Justice Henrietta Wolayo.

While the two cases had been allocated to different judges, the Electoral Commission applied for the cases to be consolidated. They argued that they arose from the same matter and both made the same demands.

Through their lawyers led by Julius Turinawe, Magara and Ssenabulya applied to amend their petition to align them with the cases and accommodate in their petitions any new requests.

Turinawe told the court that the amendment would not introduce any new grounds to the cases.

However, in her ruling delivered on Thursday, Justice Margaret Apiny said the Parliamentary Election Act 2005 doesn’t have any legal provision that implies or expressly provides for the amendment of the petition.

She also cited the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Kyagulanyi Ssentamu Robert against Yoweri Museveni Tibuhaburwa and two others to rule that allowing such an application would cause delays in the case yet election petitions are time-bound.

The Supreme Court ruled that an election petition is not the same as the Ordinary Civil proceedings and that as a matter of deliberate policy to enhance urgency, election petitions are expected to be devoid of the procedural clogs that cause a delay in the disposition of the substantive disputes.

Justice Apiny ruled that once a petition is filed in court, an amendment to the petition cannot be entertained especially when it is proposed after the expiry of the time within which a petition must be filed.

“In the absence of an express provision in the Parliamentary Elections Act and the Rules made thereunder, it cannot be said that the petitions before me are amendable,” Ruled Justice Apiny before adding that the application is untenable and that hearing of the case shall proceed based on the filed petitions.

Magara alleges that the elections were marred by several irregularities. She cited the inclusion of Ssenabulya Alex Nathan on the ballot paper yet he was not nominated as a candidate in the Katikamu South Parliamentary Election.

Magara further alleges that the Electoral Commission made glaring errors and false entries into the Declaration Forms which had a significant impact on the final results.

Ssenabulya alleges that the elections were not free and fair because the Commission did not include his name on the final Declaration form of results yet he was nominated and elected.

The Electoral Commission declared Hassan Kirumira of the National Unity Platform as the winner of the January 14th elections having polled 21,197 votes against Magara’s 8,132 votes.