Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | President Yoweri Museveni’s has through his lawyers asked the Supreme Court to dismiss a petition seeking to stop presidential aspirants from looking for signatures of their supporters before being nominated by the Electoral Commission.
In September, presidential aspirant Ivan Samuel Ssebadduka petitioned the Supreme Court saying that due to COVID-19, the Electoral Commission should be restrained from requiring the presidential aspirants to look for nomination signatures in two thirds of districts in the country.
In line with the requirements of the Electoral Commission, all aspiring candidates are required to collect 100 signatures from two-thirds of the total number of districts in the country as a precondition for their nomination. The nominations are expected to start early in the coming month of November 2020.
However, Ssebadduka who is also the editor in Chief of ‘Journal of True Science’ argued in his documents before the Supreme Court that if indeed COVID-19 exists, the presidential aspirants were going to get infected or infect the people they will be looking for signatures from.
He also noted that it doesn’t make sense for politicians especially presidential candidates to be subjected to virtual campaigns when they are asked to go and look for signatures for nominations from about 100 districts in the country.
Ssebadduka alleges that he published a cure for coronavirus and others viruses and for that reason, he knows coronavirus in and out and the respondents do not even know the simple basics about the virus.
The respondents to his petition are: President Yoweri Museveni, Electoral Commission and its Chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama and the Ministry of Health.
He faulted the said respondents for being ignorant about coronavirus saying that he is ready to challenge them scientifically in court and show them that the virus is not in Uganda.
However, although Museveni was sued despite enjoying immunity against being sued as a sitting President, has through his Senior Private Secretary for Legal Affairs Flora Kiconco asked court to dismiss the petition.
According to the documents seen by URN, Kiconco says that on October 14, 2020 when she received documents of the petition from the Supreme Court registrar, she informed the President about the matter. However, Kiconco says that Museveni directed her to discuss the issue with his lawyers of K and K Advocates.
Through the President’s lawyers, Kiconco contends that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to entertain a petition against Museveni as a president if it it’s not an election petition.
Kiconco further argues that the petitioner filed his case wrongly under the Presidential Elections Act yet that is only a preserve of those candidates who are aggrieved by presidential election results but not presidential aspirants like Ssebadduka.
She adds that the petition is an abuse of court process and it seeks no legal remedies from court, save for what she describes as irrelevant and unintelligible matters.
However, the Electoral Commission has also put in its submissions defending its decision before the Supreme Court can put the parties for conferencing on October 26, 2020.
According to the documents before court, the Electoral Commission through its Principal Legal Officer Enock Kugonza says the situation presented by COVID-19 pandemic as guided by World Health Organization and several scientists worldwide require to take extra-ordinary measures to protect the health, wellbeing of the population as well as their political rights.
Kugonza adds that the countries adopted exceptional measures to protect public health that may restrict certain human rights as long as such restrictions meet the requirements of legality, necessity, proportionality and nondiscriminatory.
In line with that, the Legal Officer contends that guidelines by the Electoral Commission are reasonable because they are complying with the standard operating procedures by ministry of health and do not in either way interfere with the freedom and independence of the aspiring candidates.
A few months ago, the High Court dismissed relatively similar petitions filed by presidential aspirant Joseph Kabuleta and Dr Emmanuel Diini Kisembo for having failed to first petition the Electoral Commission tribunal before going to court.
However, the petitioner here says he petitioned the Electoral Commission and failed to get justice hence filing a presidential election petition in the Supreme Court.