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Court Dismisses Interim Application Seeking to Include Prisoners In Voting Process

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The Deputy Registrar of the High Court Civil Division, Sarah Langa dismissed the application this morning on grounds that the applicant, Steven Kalali ought not to use the application as a short cut to justice for his delayed suit pending judgment, which is illegal.
16 Dec 2019 12:14
The Applicant Steven Kalali Addressing Journalists at High Court in Kampala
High Court in Kampala has dismissed an interim application by City Lawyer, Steven Kalali seeking to compel Electoral Commission to include Ugandans in the diaspora and prison inmates in the voting process.    

The Deputy Registrar of the High Court Civil Division, Sarah Langa dismissed the application this morning on grounds that the applicant, Steven Kalali ought not to use the application as a short cut to justice for his delayed suit pending judgment, which is illegal.  

Langa also argued that there is no way she can extend the ongoing registration process to allow prisoners and Ugandans in the diaspora to participate in the voter’s register update exercise yet they have never participated in the elections. She also noted that Kalali wanted to use the interim application to preempt the main suit seeking similar orders, which is before Justice Lydia Mugambe. 

Langa thus dismissed the application with orders that each party bears its own costs since it was a matter of public interest. Kalali ran to court on December 9th, 2019 seeking a temporary injunction stopping Electoral Commission and Government from excluding prisoners and Ugandans in the Diaspora from participating in the ongoing update of the voter’s register.  

He also asked court to compel the EC to register adult inmates and those in the diaspora, extend the deadline of the voter’s register updating exercise the disposal of the main suit seeking similar orders. Justice Lydia Mugambe set March 13th, 2020 to deliver judgment on the Kalali’s main suit, which Kalali, says will cause irreparable damage to the affected persons.   

During the hearing of the interim application, EC lawyers led by Hamid Lugolobi asked court to dismiss it. Lugolobi noted that there was lack of satisfactory proof showing how many prisoners and citizens in the diaspora will suffer damage once excluded from the poll and asked court to maintain the status quo.

He also noted that granting the orders sought by Kalali will interfere with the electoral process and therefore affect its implementation. Inmates and Ugandans in the diaspora will have to wait until March 2020 to establish whether they can vote or not.

Last week, the Electoral Commission Chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama extended the registration and voter’s register update exercise for five days, which end today. The exercise, which commenced on November, 21st, 2019 was meant to end on December, 11th, 2019

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