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Supreme Court stays ejection of legislators from new municipalities

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Supreme Court has stayed the execution of a Constitutional Court judgment annulling the election of legislators from six newly created municipalities.

The affected legislators were Patrick Ocan from Apac Municipality, Dr Elioda Tumwesigye, Sheema Municipality, Tarsis Rwaburindore Bishanga, Ibanda Municipality, Hashim Sulaiman, Nebbi Municipality, Abrahams Lokii, Kotido Municipality and their Bugiri municipality counterpart, Asuman Basalirwa.

In a majority judgment delivered this morning, the Justices noted that Electoral Commission and the government are most likely to suffer irreparable loss if the judgment is executed since they have shown exceptional circumstances to that effect.

These include among others the fact that Electoral Commission road map for the 2021 elections is already out and failure to issue an order staying the execution of the lower court decision will affect the government. The judges also noted that the applicants satisfied them on a pending appeal that may raise public and legal issues which needs to be determined and hence the need to maintain the status quo.

To this effect, the panel of the justices comprising Mike Chibita, Stella Arach, Professor Lillian Tibatemwa, Richard Buteera, Opio Aweri and Paul Mugamba ordered the stay of execution of the lower court orders until the Supreme Court orders otherwise. They also directed the Constitutional Court Registrar to expeditiously prepare the records of the proceedings to help in the appeal case.

However, Justice Dr Esther Kisakye disagreed with her colleagues and declined to sign the majority ruling, saying one doesn’t have to prove exceptional circumstances to file an application for stay of execution before the Supreme Court. Kisaakye said there was need to settle that issue so as to resolve confusion in the laws because one can directly file an application in the Supreme Court.

In January 2020, Electoral Commission and Attorney General filed an application seeking the stay of the Constitutional Court orders on grounds that they were to suffer irreparable damage if the orders arising from the judgment are not stayed.

It came after the Constitutional Court Judges led by the Deputy Chief Justice, Alfonse Owiny Dollo ordered the six legislators from the newly created municipalities to vacate parliament on grounds that they were elected into non-existing constituencies as they were created after the 2011 general elections contrary to the existing laws.

The said decision arose from a petition filed by the former Bufumbiro East Member of Parliament, Eddie Kwizera who challenged the legality of the said constituencies. Speaking to journalists shortly after the court session, Asuman Basalirwa, the Bugiri Municipality MP, said their stay in parliament has been hanging in balance. He said the ruling offers them some relief to continue representing their voters effectively.

Electoral Commission lawyer, Eric Sabiiti also welcomed the ruling, saying they are going to prepare for their pending appeal adequately.



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