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Court Upholds EC's Decision to Disqualify NRM Candidate from Luwero PWD Elections

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In his appeal, Ssekabira said the decision to eject him from the polls was biased and high handed, since it wasn’t based on evidence from a medical report. He also argued that he was never given chance to file his defense.
27 Jan 2021 12:44
Herbert Ssekabira the petitioner at the Civil Division of High Court in Kampala.

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High Court has upheld the disqualification of Herbert Ssekabira, the National Resistance Movement-NRM party candidate from the Luwero District Male Persons with Disability-Pwds councilor’s race by the Electoral Commission. Justice Esta Nambayo delivered her ruling this morning leaving Ssekabira’s rival Suuna Mulema unopposed.  

Ssekabira ran to court after the Electoral Commission chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama ejected him from the race on December 28th, 2020 on grounds that he had failed to prove substantially that he has a disability in as far as the Persons with Disabilities Act of 2019 is concerned.   

Byabakamaa directed the Luwero District Returning Officer to declare unopposed since he was the only remaining candidate in the race. Ssekabira’s trouble started from a complaint by the Legal Disability Rights Advocacy, a non-governmental organization saying he didn’t have any hearing disabilities and therefore lacks the capacity to represent their interests. 

Ssekabira appealed against the Electoral Commission's decision in the High Court. In his appeal, Ssekabira said the decision to eject him from the polls was biased and high handed, since it wasn’t based on evidence from a medical report. He also argued that he was never given chance to file his defense.

However, during the hearing, Electoral Commission lawyers led by Dr. Jennifer Angago and Gilda Katutu opposed the application, saying it was incompetent and barred in law. They argued that once a candidate has been declared unopposed, it means that the electoral process has ended at that stage.

They also argued that considering the rules under the Electoral Commission Act, the High Court lacked jurisdictions to entertain the appeal, adding that it should been filed before the Chief Magistrate’s Court.

In her ruling, Justice Nambayo concurred with EC saying Ssekabira assumed that the Returning Officer had not yet declared Mulema unopposed.

She said Ssekabira had the burden to prove that the Returning Officer has not yet declared his rival unopposed as directed by the EC Chairperson, which he failed to do. "My finding is that the appellant/Ssekabira has failed to discharge his burden of proof. Therefore I'm left with no option but to find that Mulema is unopposed and that the respondent/Electoral Commission had since ceased to have jurisdictions over this matter,” said Nambayo.

She advised Ssekabira to file the matter in the Luwero Chief Magistrates Court should any other grievance arise from the case. Ssekabira's lawyer Yafesi Ochieng told URN that they are dissatisfied with the ruling and will consult their lawyer on the way forward. 

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