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Court consolidates suits against Electoral Commission chairperson

FILE PHOTO: Justice Simon Byabakama

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  | Justice Musa Ssekaana has merged two suits seeking to force the Electoral Commission chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama out of office for alleged failure to resign from the Court of Appeal.

According to Justice Ssekaana, he will jointly hear the suits filed by City Lawyer, Male Mabirizi and  14  leaders from the “People’s Government’ on December 12 since they appear to have similar facts. He explains that it was necessary to consolidate the suits to avoid duplicity and multiplicity.

Justice Ssekaana explained this when Mabirizi’s suit came up before him in the High Court Civil Division on Tuesday. Mabirizi ran to court on August 12th, 2019 seeking a permanent injunction restraining Justice Byabakama from holding the office of Electoral Commission chairperson before stepping down as Justice of the Appellant Court.

He also asked court to declare the position of Electoral chairperson vacant and order him to pay him costs of the suit. In his petition, Mabirizi contends that the Judiciary website shows that Justice Byabakama is on a special assignment, which is an indication that he holds two offices.

He argues that this compromises the independence of the Judiciary in dealing with electoral matters. Mabirizi protested the decision to consolidate the suits, saying his involves the Attorney General.

In their November 29th, 2019 suit, the Leaders of the ‘People’s Government’ led by Erias Lukwago partly sought to similar orders like those in Mabirizi’s petition. They also challenge the continued stay of Sam Rwakoojo in the office of Electoral Commission after the expiry of his five year term.

Rwakoojo’s contract expired on September 23rd 2019 having been renewed on September 23rd 2014. The petitioners argue that this is Rwakoojo’s second and final term, which has since expired, adding that his holding the office illegally.

The petitioners also challenge the December 11th, 2019 deadline announced by Electoral Commission for the registration of all legible voters, arguing that it is meant to lock out citizens who will be 18 years and above by the time of the 2021 general elections.

The Attorney General and Electoral Commission that were represented by the Principal State Attorney Richard Adrole and Eric Sabiiti respectively didn’t object to the decision to consolidate the suits.



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