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No 2021 election job for Supreme Court?

Relevance of Uganda’s highest at stake

Kampala, Uganda | MUBATSI ASINJA HABATI | Since the Electoral Commission on Jan.28 announced the final results of the 2021 presidential elections with the incumbent, President Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Kaguta Museveni winning re-election with 58.38% of votes cast, the clock has been ticking for his challengers to lodge a petition in the Supreme Court.

The leader of the opposition National Unity Platform (NUP), Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine who emerged second with 35.08% of votes cast has already said Museveni rigged the election and is largely expected to challenge the results in court. But by the time of writing this story, Bobi Wine’s team was sending mixed signals about whether they would be filing a petition against Museveni’s win.

If they lodge a petition, they would be following a petition established in three of the last four presidential elections starting in 2001. Only the 2011 election was not challenged in court.

But many observers have their eyes not on the petitioner but on the Supreme Court itself. Many have observed that Kyagulanyi’s lack of enthusiasm about going to the Supreme Court; even if he eventually ends up there, is a sign that few Ugandan opposition politicians are willing to challenge the January 14 presidential election results because the court’s decision is a foregone conclusion.

Under Ugandan law, a petition challenging the presidential election should be lodged in the Supreme Court registry within ten days after the declaration of the election results.

Robert Kyagulanyi who came second according to results announced by the Electoral Commission, is still cagey whether he will challenge the results.

Immediately the results were announced, Kyagulanyi, told the Voice of America that he would not seek court redress since the courts, according to him, were under Museveni. In an interview with VoA, Kyagulanyi said he is not taking his case to the Supreme Court.

Kyagulanyi said his party has evidence to prove the election was fraudulent, including ballot box stuffing by the Ugandan military, which he said also ordered people to vote for President Yoweri Museveni on Election Day.

“We are going to show the world the evidence of our claim to victory,” he said.

When VOA asked him if he plans to take his case to the Ugandan Supreme Court, Kyagulanyi reportedly said he would not because everyone knows that the court is controlled by Museveni.

“It is a mockery,” he said. “It is firmly in the pocket of General Museveni.”

But on Jan.17 Bobi Wine tweeted on the NUP handle: “I take this painful but nonetheless inevitable leadership decision of urging you to desist from any form of violence as we prepare to challenge the election outcome and its glaring imperfections through the courts of law for the sake of our long-term victory and for Uganda”. The tweet was seen by some as an effort to cool the anger of his supporters.

On Jan. 18 in another interview with Daily Monitor Bobi Wine reportedly said he would challenge Museveni’s 6th term victory in the Supreme Court. It was reported that despite the Internet shutdown by Museveni’s government, his (Kyagulanyi’s) team was able to gather good evidence to present before court to challenge the election results.

The military placed Kyagulanyi under house arrest for 10 days perhaps to curtail his efforts to rally masses to reject the election results.

The government spokespersons pointed at how Kyagulanyi had rejected the result as rigged and claimed several of his agents were chased away from polling stations by the military. They said he was likely to incite a mass insurrection.

But while addressing the press 10 days after the military ended a siege of his compound, Kyagulanyi did not hint on whether he would go to court to challenge the presidential results.

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