As widely expected, the Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that President Yoweri Museveni was genuinely declared winner of the 2016 presidential elections. The court proceeded to dismiss the petition by former presidential contender Amama Mbabazi with no costs.
Unlike previous petitions in 2001 and 2006, all the nine judges unanimously ruled in favour of Museveni.
Besides the court’s position on the different aspects of the petition, it were the recommendations that were made by the Chief Justice Bart Katureebe towards the end of his submission that appeared to carry meaning to Ugandans.
Bart Katureebe noted that the petitioners presented complaints in their case on grounds that had been ruled on before but were being presented again even under the same legal regime.
One of them is the issue of incumbency. Katureebe noted that the Presidential Elections Act ensures that the incumbent retains his enormous presidential privileges. Katureebe further alluded to the fact that the Constitution makes it very difficult for anyone to challenge a sitting president. For example, the constitution gives power to the president to appoint officials and agencies involved in election management.
Whereas the petitioner had cited the distribution of farm inputs during the campaign period for example, court agreed with Museveni’s defence that the president committed no crime in executing an existing government programme.
It was the view of Katureebe therefore that taking petitions to the Supreme Court again on similar merits that have been already ruled on, should not be expected to bring diffetent results.
The areas of concern which Katureebe said must be addressed before going back to the supreme court include checking the power of incumbency, use of public resources, use of public media and late amendments of electoral laws.
He argues that they should first attend to the recommendations of the Supreme Court before they take any more petitions.
The Electoral Commission declared Museveni winner of the Feb 18, 2016 polls with 60.7% of the votes counted while his closest rival Dr. Kizza Besigye got 35%. The petitioner Mbabazi managed only 1.5% of the tally.
Although the petitioner had alleged there were huge discrepancies in the Declaration Forms submitted to the Electoral Commission, the Supreme Court rejected this assertion. Chief Justice Katureebe said the petitioner didn’t present any evidence to show the discrepancies.
However the justices urged the executive and the legislature to amend electoral laws as well as laws government publicly owned media houses, and to check the power of incumbency.
Kizza Besigye, gave an interview to nbs television in which he claimed to have had the first right to petition Museveni’s win because he got more votes than Mbabazi. Besigye noted however that although he was prevented from putting together the evidence to challenge Museveni through his continued house detention, he preferred not to go to court because he argued, this is a political and not a legal problem.
Judges were compromised, Besigye
Besigye vowed to continue with his “Free my vote campaign”. He accused the 9 Supreme Court justices of having been compromised when they threw out John Patrick Amama Mbabazi’s petition which demanded the annulment of the presidential election results.
“This ruling has nothing at all to do with the struggle I started to let the people’s voice reign and If Mr. Museveni thinks of being sworn in as a validly elected president of Uganda he is mistaken,” Besigye vowed.
Besigye said: “We have an illegitimate president who is trying to over throw the will of people through his will of power.”