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Court consolidates William Museveni, EC petition in Buwekula South election appeal

EC lawyer Eric Sabiiti. File Photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Court of Appeal has consolidated election appeals filed separately by the Electoral Commission and William Museveni, challenging the Mubende High Court decision ordering fresh elections for the Buwekula South Parliamentary seat.

The EC declared William Museveni the winner of the Buwekula South Parliamentary seat with 8,185 votes against 7,479 votes garnered by his closest rival Fred Tumwesigye. However, Tumwesigye rejected the poll results citing voter bribery and intimidation of voters using security personnel.

He also accused the EC of conspiring with Museveni to steal his victory. Justice Eve Luswata allowed the petition, saying there was enough evidence to prove the allegations levelled against Museveni including voter bribery. She also ruled that the Electoral Commission failed to conduct free and fair elections and ordered fresh polls.

However, Museveni and EC rejected the petition and ran to the Court of Appeal. Museveni through his lawyers led by Abas Nsamba Matovu filed an appeal to which the Electoral Commission was listed as the second appellant. However, when the matter came up for hearing on Monday before a panel of three Justices of the Court of Appeal comprising Elizabeth Musoke, Irene Mulyagonja and Monica Mugenyi, the EC lawyer Eric Sabiiti said that they were not a party to the appeal, adding that they had filed a separate appeal.

The justices asked Museveni’s lawyer Nsamba to explain why he had included the Commission as a second appellant on his clients application. Nsamba told the court that they added EC to their petition because they were not sure that the Commission would appeal. He explained that they added the Commission so that EC’s submissions at High Court could be adopted and used in the appeal.

Sabiiti argued that they were not sure that Museveni would appeal and that’s why they filed an Independent appeal. Paul Sebunya who represented Fred Tumwesigye, who is the respondent in both matters, asked that since Museveni added the Electoral Commission to their Appeal in error, the Commission be removed from the appeal. He asked for an award of costs on the same, saying that they incurred costs as they had prepared a legal response to that effect.

The counsels to Museveni and EC didn’t object to the prayers to have the Commission removed from Museveni’s application. The court granted the application to remove EC from Museveni’s application but said it would decide on costs requested by Tumwesigye’s lawyer in the judgment of the main appeal.

Having removed Electoral Commission from Museveni’s appeal, there were two appeals before court, one by Museveni and the other by Electoral Commission. Museveni’s lawyer Nsamba hence applied for merging of the appeals since both cases arise from the same issue, the same facts, adding that the judgement from High Court affected both parties.

The court granted the application following a 20 minutes adjournment, which allowed the Justices to discuss and come to a decision. The panel hence decided that Electoral Commission and Museveni consolidate their appeals and file a consolidated Memorandum by March 31st, 2022 and file their submissions by April 5th, 2022.

In the consolidated Memorandum of Appeal, the two shall harmonise their grounds of Appeal and their submissions to the same. The court also directed the respondent to file and serve the appellants with his response by April 8th, 2022 and the appellants to file a rejoinder by April 12th, 2022. The panel shall issue its judgement on the date to be communicated to the parties.

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