The country waited with bated breath for the Supreme Court decision on the outcome of the 2016 elections. In the end, the coram of the nine High Court judges, led by Chief Justice Bart Katureebe, by law disagreed with the petitioner, former prime minister, Amama Mbabazi that the presidential and Parliamentary poll had been rigged in favour of the incumbent, President Yoweri Museveni.
Essentially, Katureebe read out the judgment that the petition by Mbabazi lead lawyer, Muhammad Mbabazi, lacked substance in all the areas of the petition of: ballot-stuffing, unavailable Declaration of the Ruling (DR) forms, disenfranchising voters and arresting and denying opposition polling agents access to their rightful functions, biasedness of the Electoral Commission (EC(, among others.
Overall, the precedence of the rulings in the Besigye petitions of 2005 and 2011, where he had challenged the election results in favour of Museveni, continued to hang over the Katureebe ruling.
He dwelt on the same issues of irregularities, inadequate evidence, witness numbers, as not substantial for the annulment of the elections. He averred that the case of the actual mathematics of the votes was necessary for the count to be affected; and in this area, the petitioner, in this case Mbabazi, had been inadequate.
It is important to note that Mbabazi came third in the poll results, at a percentage of less than two of the overall results, way off the Museveni’s winning percentage of 60%, of the total vote. It is instructive that, had it been Besigye with his 35%; and had his petition geared towards that statistics, as requested by Katureebe, of the rigging in such a way as to have proved that there had been massive irregularities, it may have had substance.
In the event it was Mbabazi who petitioned; and Besigye did not even join in the petition. Indeed, this affirmed his (Besigye’s) earlier position that he would not go to court in the event that the poll was rigged as he had done in the other two occasions.
The Katureebe Court ruling therefore goes in the way of the Justice Benjamin Odoki rulings of the fore. The announcement that he would give details within 90 days is made in an attempt to mollify the restive public, but it would not carry any more substance in law.
This ruling, of course, does not touch on the matters of Besigye’s house arrest, but in an oblique way, the reference to the 90 days, would tend to indicate that the matter may now
slowly simmer off while the country waits for the details. It is a clever allusion to what the Odoki judgments had referred as to the interest of the stability of the country after the contentious polls results.
In the advent of the judgment, there were political convulsions that were evident right from the “preventive arrest” of Besigye. In the diverse areas, such as Kasese, Bundibugyo, in the south west and west; and Kapchorwa, in the east, there was violence resulting in the deaths of civilians and Police officers, tagged to the result of the elections. This drew a strong presence of security personnel in the form of Police and military deployment. It led to Museveni himself going to Bundibugyo, one of the areas of violence, in an attempt to calm the situation. This was after it came to light that there had been ambushes in Kasese on the person of the Inspector General of Police, Kale Kayihura.
In Kampala City and its environs, patrols have been mounted, almost from the end of the February 18th poll, obviously in anticipation of trouble from the opposition, especially when Besigye had threatened to march to the EC offices to check out the veracity of the DR forms.
The whole matter now throws the ball to the court of the Executive, giving it a time of lease to manage the Besigye incarceration in such a way as to unruffle the restive national feathers. That has been evident all along since the declaration of the election results.