On Saturday 16th January 2021, the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Justice Simon Byabakama Mugenyi announced the results of the presidential election held on 14th January 2021. The incumbent, President Yoweri Museveni Tibuhaburwa Kaguta of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party was declared the winner with 58.6% of the votes.
The runner-up, Hon. Kyagulanyi Robert, widely known by the stage name “Bobi Wine” of the National Unity Platform (NUP) party garnered 34.8% of the votes. However, Mr. Kyagulanyi disputed the official results and petitioned the Supreme Court to challenge President Museveni’s victory. He claimed that the elections were not free and fair. Mr. Kyagulanyi also said that the elections were marred with violence, irregularities and rigging. He, therefore, chose the option of going to court seeking the annulment of the election.
The ground for petition
According to Kyagulanyi and his Legal team, the elections were carried outside the electoral laws, which substantially affected the outcome. In a petition that was filed at the Supreme Court in Kololo, a suburb of Kampala on Monday, February 1st, 2021, Kyagulanyi’s lawyers in their petition listed 26 grounds against president Museveni’s victory; the Electoral Commission (EC) and Attorney General as accomplices.
In the petition, Kyagulanyi avers that; “The presidential election held on the 14th day of January 2021 was not held in accordance with the provisions of the electoral laws and the principles governing elections, which non-compliance affected the results of the elections in a substantial manner.
The 1st respondent (Mr. Museveni) was not validly elected as the president.
Therefore, his election should be annulled and a fresh election held in accordance with the law. The EC was accused of failing to take all the necessary steps to ensure that all citizens who qualified to vote were registered. The EC was also accused of failing to provide adequate voter education as required by law. According to Kyagulanyi’s lawyers, the election road map issued by the EC was illegal and modes of campaigns dictated were arbitrary and contrary to provisions of the Constitution and the Presidential Elections Act.
On Friday, February 5, an attempt by the lawyers of Kyagulanyi to file an amended petition at the Supreme Court was not allowed by the court registrar. They were asked to make a formal application requesting to file an amended petition.
One of the lawyers on Kyagulanyi’s legal team, Marvin Saasi said the intended amendment of the original petition contained evidence showing that president Yoweri Museveni was allegedly not qualified to contest for the presidency and bribed voters. The amendment would require the respondents; president Museveni, Electoral Commission (EC) and Attorney General (AG) to file additional documents in court since new facts about the case would be adduced. Mr. Museveni, the Electoral Commission and the Attorney General had filed their rebuttals already basing on Mr. Kyagulanyi’s original petition of February 1st.
In their response, the trio asked that Kyagulanyi’s petition be dismissed with costs and that the petition didn’t have grounds for a presidential election petition. Mr. Museveni’s lawyers; K&K Advocates and Byenkya, Kihika & Company Advocates argued that the elections were conducted in a free and fair manner. The request by Kyagulanyi’s lawyers to file an amended petition to introduce new grounds was rejected by the Justices of the Supreme Court on account that it would tantamount to filing a new petition beyond the constitutional 15 days window after results are announced.
Another application to the court by Kyagulanyi’s lawyers to beef up the challenge to Mr. Museveni’s re-election was made to allow more evidence, including more than 200 affidavits, video evidence of ballot stuffing by security officers, brutality during the campaigns. It was rejected unanimously by the court a day before the start of the pre-hearing, leaving the petitioner in a precarious position.
By Jimmy Odoki Acellam
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