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Electoral Commission, AG Want Kyagulanyi’s Petition Dismissed

According to the 1995 constitution as amended in 2017, a presidential candidate not satisfied with the results of the Electoral Commission has up to 15 days to file a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the results after they have been declared. The Electoral Commission declared Museveni the winner of the 2021 presidential election on January 16 with 58 % of the valid votes while Kygaulanyi the runner-up had 35%. Therefore, Kyagulanyi had up to January 31 to file his petition. However, the above deadline fell on a Sunday prompting him through his lawyers to ask court to file the petition on Saturday January 30, which was denied.
04 Feb 2021 21:54
AG William Byaruhanga on the right with Commissioner in Charge of Civil Litigation Martin Mwambutsya filing their response to Supreme Court Registry

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The Electoral Commission and the Attorney General have asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the election petition filed by former Presidential Candidate for the National Unity Platform-NUP, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu Robert for filing it outside the mandatory 15 days after the declaration of results. 

In their response to Kyagulanyi’s petition challenging the declaration of Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni as president-elect, both the Electoral Commission and the Attorney General who are the second and third respondents respectively say the petition is incompetent and contravenes the constitution.

“The 3rd Respondent contends that the petition is bad and barred in law for having been filed outside the period stipulated by the Constitution…” reads part of the Attorney General’s response. 

A similar response is also made by the Electoral Commission chairman, Justice Simon Mugenyi Byabakama in his affidavit. 

According to the 1995 constitution, as amended in 2017, a presidential candidate not satisfied with the results of the Electoral Commission has up to 15 days to file a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the results after they have been declared. 

The Electoral Commission declared Museveni the winner of the 2021 presidential election on January 16 with 58 % of the valid votes while Kygaulanyi the runner-up had 35%. 

Therefore, Kyagulanyi had up to January 31 to file his petition. However, the above deadline fell on a Sunday prompting him through his lawyers to ask the court to file the petition on Saturday, January 30, which was denied. 

In a handwritten note, however, the Chief Justice Alphonse Owinyi Dollo allowed them to file on Monday, February 1, a day after the deadline, as courts don’t work on weekends.   Meanwhile, the Electoral Commission says in its affidavit that if Court is not persuaded to dismiss the petition over filing it out of time, then it should on the ground that Kyagulanyi has no legal complaints that can be entertained in court.   

Justice Byabakama contends the Electoral process was free and fair and that if there were any irregularities, they were minor and did not affect the results of the election in any substantial manner. The Electoral Commission also denies all charges levelled against it in Kyagulanyi’s petition including the fact that he was denied to campaign in certain districts. In Justice Byabakama’s affidavit, he says most of the decisions he took were aimed at stopping the spread of the Coronavirus.  

“The ministry of health experts categorized as high sustained and defused transmission the districts/areas specified in the Petitioner’s affidavit. Following this, the 2nd Respondent suspended campaign meeting is all categories of elections …I know further that this decision applied to all candidates at all levels; presidential, parliamentary and local government,” Byabakama’s affidavit reads in part. 

The Electoral Commission is represented by Kampala Associated Advocates and Okello Oryem Advocates For his part, the Attorney General William Byaruhanga too wants the petition of Kyagulanyi dismissed.   

Like the Electoral Commission, he says if there was non-compliance with the electoral laws, they did not substantially affect the Presidential Election.

The Attorney General contends that the government complied with the recommendations of the Supreme Court in the Amama Mbabazi Presidential Election Petition of 2016 contrary to what Kyagulanyi alleges in his petition.  

Among the laws that the Attorney General lists as having been amended include those relating to donations during the election period laws on the adoption of technology in the management of elections, extending the time frame within which to file the presidential election among others. On the issues of barring Kyagulanyi from campaigning by the security, an affidavit by Edward Ochom, the director of operations in the Uganda Police says that Kyagulanyi's conduct throughout the campaign period was characterized by lawlessness, reckless behaviour, disrespect for authority and conducted in a manner designed to defy all norms of civilized and acceptable conduct.

As such, Ochom adds that Kyagulanyi found himself in an inevitable conflict with the security forces which are mandated to enforce the law and maintain order.   Ochom also says that Kyagulanyi and his supporters were found wearing fatigues having the appearance of distinctive marks of uniforms belonging to the armed forces without the permission of the Minister as the law provides. 

He also says that Kyagulanyi was advised not to hold political rallies of more than 200 people due to Covid-19 but still evidence from several regional police commanders indicates that he defied all the guidelines put in place.  

Speaking to Journalists after filing the petition, Byaruhanga said he will personally appear in court during the hearing due to the weight of the case.   

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The Supreme Court is waiting for the response of Museveni who is the first respondent in the case before scheduling a date when the parties will meet to conference on what will be the main issues to be litigated against. 

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