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More Time Needed to Handle Presidential Election Petitions –Chief Justice

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The Chief Justice wondered if the incumbent president is supposed to handover office in May and the elections are in January 2021 why then should courts have only 45 days to hear and determine grievances brought before them.
14 Dec 2020 15:15
Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo.

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The Chief Justice, Alfonse Owiny-Dollo wants Parliament to amend laws relating to presidential election petitions and give court more time to decide the petitions. 

Currently, Section 59 of the Presidential Elections Act of 2020 requires aggrieved parties to file presidential election petitions within fifteen days from the declaration of the results. The same provision requires the court to hear and determine the petition with 45 days from the date of the filing. 

However, the Chief Justice, Owiny-Dollo, says the time insufficient especially if it is to result in democratic and meaningful justice and should be revised. He says the country is too big and one needs sufficient time to collect evidence from various places.

“You find when the records presented are too voluminous from the table to the ceiling, which require a lot of time for reading and research,” he said. He was delivering his opening remarks at the four-day symposium in Kampala with key city lawyers who have featured prominently in the previous presidential election petitions.

The group is brainstorming on how presidential election petitions should be handled should they emerge in the fourth coming general elections. The Chief Justice wondered if the incumbent president is supposed to handover office in May and the elections are in January 2021 why then should courts have only 45 days to hear and determine grievances brought before them.

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Speaking to URN on the sidelines of the event, the Electoral Commission lawyer, Eric Sabiiti noted that previously court would only give them about four days to file their responses to petitions, which is insufficient.  He explained if they don’t get a very determined team of advocates, they would fail to respond to some complaints raised by the applicants. 



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Luganda Audio 



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  The four days’ symposium comes exactly one month to the 2021 presidential elections. Eleven candidates are currently traversing the country to canvas support for their bid for the country’s top seat.

The laws under the Presidential Elections Act provide that elections and the resultant presidential petitions are supposed to be concluded at least 120 days before a new Government or a five-year new term of the new leader commences.