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Court upholds victory of Aruu South MP Christopher Komakech

Christopher Komakech outside court. File Photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Court of Appeal in Kampala has upheld the election of Christopher Komakech, as the Aruu South Member of Parliament. The decision stems from an application filed by Komakech challenging a decision by Justice Tadeo Asiimwe, throwing him out of parliament.

Komakech run for the Aruu South Member of Parliament as an independent in the January 14th 2021 polls, and polled 9,796 votes. His rival, Odonga Otto came second with 6,199 votes. Dissatisfied with the results, Otto petitioned the High Court in Gulu arguing that Komakech had not resigned his position as a psychiatrist at Butabika Hospital by the time he joined elective politics.

After listening to the application, Justice Tadeo Asiimwe concurred with Otto and consequently nullified Komakech’s victory. He ordered the Electoral Commission to organize fresh polls. He argued that Komakech had wrongly addressed his resignation to the Executive Director of Butabika Hospital instead of the Permanent Secretary Health Service Commission, since he was a pensionable public servant as provided for in the Public Standing orders.

The court also found that by addressing his resignation letter to a wrong authority, Komakech was as good as a public servant who did not resign. Dissatisfied with the High court decision, the Electoral Commission and Komakech through their lawyers petitioned the appellant court arguing the applicant had achieved his intention of resigning since he was no longer regarded as a public servant.

Komakech argued that prior to joining the elections, he tendered his resignation to the Executive Director of Butabika because she was the very person who gave him his appointment letter. He argued that there was no way he could have addressed the resignation letter to the Permanent Secretary who was not his appointing authority.

On Thursday morning, a panel of three Court of Appeal Justices comprising Geoffrey Kiryabwire, Stephen Musota and Christopher Gashirabake withheld Komakech’s election. They also ordered Odonga Otto to pay him the costs of the suits for the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

They however didn’t explain the reasons for their decision. The Court of Appeal Registrar Lillian Buchana only read the summary of the verdict, saying that the judges will provide a detailed judgement. Speaking to Uganda Radio Network shortly after the judgement, Komakech said that it was now time to work for his people, adding that he was troubled by the dismissal from Parliament and the death of his father.

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