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Mabirizi runs to court to cancel presidential nominations

City lawyer Male Mabirizi. Courtesy photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Lawyer Male Mabirizi has petitioned the East African Court of Justice challenging the recently concluded presidential nominations which he says were marred by irregularities.

On Monday and Tuesday this week, the Electoral Commission chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama Mugenyi nominated eleven candidates to contest in the presidential race in the 2021 general elections.

Three generals nominated on the first day were: Yoweri Museveni, Henry Tumukunde and Mugisha Muntu. Civilians nominated on the second day were Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, Patrick Oboi Amuriat, Joseph Kabuleta, John Katumba, Fred Mwesigye, Nancy Kalembe, Nobert Mao, and Willy Mayambala.

However, in his petition against government, Mabirizi alleges that there was procedural impropriety and a number of illegalities that were reportedly made by the Electoral Commission and therefore they resulted into unfair nominations.

For instance, Mabirizi contends that the Electoral Commission chairperson Byabakama in his statement dated October 29, 2020, surrendered the Commission’s powers to manage presidential election nominations to the national organizing committee which he had put in place.

On the said day, Byabakama issued a statement indicating that in order to ensure that it meets the status of a national and presidential event, the Electoral Commission has constituted a national organizing committee (NOC) comprising various partner government ministries, departments and agencies to ensure smooth, coordinated and successful organization.

In the same statement, Mabirizi argues that Byabakama also further surrendered the commission’s powers to police which also went ahead and issued a statement to the public and it announced a day time curfew on the route leading to Kyambogo University sports grounds where the nominations took place.

According to Mabirizi, the establishment of the National Organizing Committee which comprised of a number of people outside those provided for in the Constitution jeopardized the independence of the Commission, whose job is to manage and organize the election process but not bringing in an organizing committee which is not provided for in the laws of the country to manage elections.

Besides this, Mabirizi argues that the Electoral Commission erred by nominating all presidential candidates without requiring them to produce a number of key documents.

The evidence by Mabirizi indicates that they should have brought documents such as birth certificates to prove that they are Ugandans by birth, Original Uganda Advanced Certificates of Education or its equivalent and resolutions of their respective political parties and organizations general assemblies electing them for those sponsored by political parties.

To Mabirizi, these documents should have helped to prove that the candidates are academically and politically qualified for the top most job they are contesting for.

Mabirizi also argues that the Electoral Commission in its statement of October 29, 2020, verified and cleared Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who had produced the necessary signatures. But Mabirizi then wonders why on November 4, 2020, the Commission indicated that they had nominated Yoweri Museveni Tibuhaburwa Kaguta, a person who never participated in the verification exercise.

Effective October 6 2020, Museveni swore an affidavit to show his name arrangement properly and he noted that from that day and onwards, he should be referred to as Yoweri Museveni Tibuhaburwa Kaguta.

It is also Mabirizi’s argument that the actions of arresting Forum for Democratic Change’s candidate Patrick Amuriat Oboi prior to his nomination venue and his forceful delivery to the nomination center as well as the brutal arrest, torture and inhumane treatment of Kyagulanyi immediately after his nomination were illegal.

He notes that therefore it was unlawful for the Commission to subsequently announce that the presidential campaigns and electoral days resulting from the process which was flawed instead of repeating it.

Now Mabirizi wants court to declare the said actions as unlawful and they infringe on the fundamentals and operations of the East African Community which include good governance, rule of law, accountability, transparency and maintenance of universally accepted standards of human rights.

He also wants an order nullifying the processes, actions and decisions made by the Commission and its resultant processes which is the entire 2021 electoral process and results.

The Attorney General who has been sued on behalf of the government and actions of the Electoral Commission is yet to be summoned by court to put in his defense to the petition.

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