Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Nakawa West MP Joel Ssenyonyi is using a Supreme Court ruling that stopped presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi from introducing new grounds to oppose the election of Yoweri Museveni, to also oppose the amendment of a petition that is challenging his election.
Businessman Shukla Mukesh, commonly known as Shumuk is challenging Ssenyonyi’s election on grounds that the Electoral Commission didn’t follow the law in declaring him the winner in the January elections. He alleges that area presiding officers connived with Ssenyonyi’s agents to alter the Declaration Results forms to snatch his victory.
However in May, Mukesh without seeking leave of court also introduced lack of academic qualifications as another ground to oppose Ssenyonyi’s victory. Yesterday before High Court Judge Isaac Muwata, Ssenyonyi’s lawyers led by Dennis Atwijukire raised a preliminary objection saying the court has no powers to hear, let alone, extend the time in which an aggrieved party can file an election petition.
To support their arguments, Ssenyonyi’s lawyers relied on the Supreme Court ruling which stopped Kyagulanyi from introducing new grounds to challenge Museveni’s election after the January 2021 presidential polls.
“The Parliament Elections Act and the Election Petition rules have no provisions for amendment of the petitions already filed and its already settled by the Supreme Court in Kyagulanyi Robert Ssentamu vs Yoweri Museveni Tibuhaburwa and two others…where the court held that ‘The Act doesn’t provide for the extension of time for filing an Elections Petition,” Atwijukire told the court.
He added that the same decision was interpreted and relied on by Justice Andrew Bashaija in the petition of Wanyoto Lydia Mutende vs Electoral Commission and Nakayenze Connie Galiwango when faced with a similar situation.
When the court made the ruling in February, the National Unity Platform, including Ssenyonyi criticized the ruling calling it illegal and biased against their former presidential candidate. The party said then that such a ruling was a clear manifestation of how Museveni’s government had captured the judiciary.
Asked after the court hearing whether he now believes it’s okay to deny petitioners to amend their petitions after the legally accepted time, Ssenyonyi told URN that his opinion no longer matters because that ruling is now part of the country’s laws.
The court heard Ssenyonyi’s preliminary objections and has set Friday this week as the day when Mukesh’s lawyers who said were not ready to proceed to give their response to the objection. “We are going to seek an adjournment after his submission. We haven’t been furnished with the authorities, we will need to go through what they have raised,” said Badru Bwango, Mukesh’s lawyer.
Speaking to URN, George Musisi, another of Ssenyonyi’s lawyers said they are convinced, Mukesh doesn’t have a sound petition that’s why his lawyers keep on asking for adjournments.