Former presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, alias Bobi Wine, yesterday suffered an early setback in his petition challenging President Museveni’s victory when the Supreme Court dismissed his application to amend the suit and include new grounds.

After the hearing of submissions by both Kyagulanyi and Museveni lawyers, the court adjourned for a few hours to give a ruling on the application.

When court resumed at 4pm, Justice Stella Arach Amoko who read the unanimous ruling, dismissed Mr Kyagulanyi’s application on grounds that the issues he intended to add to the petition had already been included in the original petition.

The justices advised Mr Kyagulanyi’s legal team led by Mr Medard Lubega Sseggona to file evidence by affidavits to prove the grounds they raised in the original petition.

Other justices on the panel are Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny Dollo, justices Rubby Opio Aweri, Esther Kisaakye, Faith Mwondha, Paul Mugamba, Mike Chibita, Ezekiel Muhanguzi and Night Percy Tuhaise.

The justices said they could not allow Mr Kyagulanyi’s new ground in the intended amended petition which indicated that Mr Museveni was illegally nominated in the presidential race. Kyagulanyi had argued that Museveni was illegally nominated for presidential elections since he is the head of state, head of government, commander in chief and chairperson of the National Security Council.

Mr Kyagulanyi’s legal team had pleaded that articles 102 (2) (b) and 219 of the Constitution bar a person holding such positions from running for president.

The court reasoned that the amendment of the petition was a new issue brought up after the lapse of the mandatory 15 days within which a petitioner can challenge a presidential election from the date results are declared by Electoral Commission (EC).

Court has set tomorrow for the pre-hearing session on the petition where both parties will agree on the issues to be determined by the judges.
Submissions at the hearing

During the hearing earlier in the day, Kyagulanyi’s lead counsel Mr Sseggona asked court to allow the amendment of the petition, saying it would enable the judges effectively probe the alleged issues in interest of justice.

Mr Sseggona argued that immediately after the election, Mr Kyagulanyi was placed under house arrest and released only five days to the deadline for filing a presidential election petition.

He said the confinement constrained Kyagulanyi and denied him enough time to gather more evidence.

“If allowed, the respondents (accused parties) will be allowed to respond on all matters in controversy and it would enable the court to adjudicate on all matters effectively and arrive at a just decision,” Mr Sseggona submitted, adding that they were aware of the need for a speedy hearing of the petition required by law but it should be the undertaking of all parties.

He had also asked court to strike out a sworn statement by Museveni lawyer, Mr Oscar Kihika, which objected to the application.

Ssegona reasoned that no authority had been attached as proof that he was allowed to swear it on behalf of Mr Museveni.

He reasoned that Mr Kihika, a director of legal affairs at the National Resistance Movement secretariat did not follow the rules.

He added that  Mr Museveni is a not corporation to have another person swear an affidavit in his name.

Museveni team
However,  Mr Museveni’s lead lawyer, Mr Ebert Byenkya objected to Mr Sseggona’s assertions saying they were misconceived because Mr Kihika swore the affidavit in his capacity as a director of NRM, a party which sponsored Mr Museveni in the election.

He asked court to dismiss Mr Kyagulanyi’s application for amendment of the petition on account that it is time-barred and the law governing presidential election petitions does not provide for amendments.

“There are rules governing determination of presidential election petitions and provide for fixed number of events; that is filing, service in two days, answer in three days and hearing in a very fixed timeframe. The time for hearing is upon us as of tomorrow,” Mr Byenkya submitted.

Electoral Commission
The EC, counsel, Mr Joseph Matsiko, argued that the amendments presented by Mr Kyagulanyi raised new cause of action which is untenable under the law.
He said: “The amendment introduces new grounds which is not permissible in the Presidential Elections Act. The proposed amendments are fresh grounds brought after 15 days laid out in the law.”
Attorney General (AG)
AG William Byaruhanga asked court to throw out Mr Kyagulanyi’s application with costs, reasoning that the amendment sought to defeat their defence.

“In consideration of the application, consider the reality that the country is waiting for confirmation of the president. The court should also consider the 45 days within which it must deliver its decision,” said Mr Byaruhanga, adding that the amendments cannot be brought at the expiry of the stipulated time.

Legal representation 

Mr Kyagulanyi was represented by Medard Seggona, Samuel Muyizi, Anthony Wameli, Frederick Kalule, Abudalla Kiwanuka and Suleiman Kakaire.

Mr Museveni was represented by Ebert Byenkya, Kiryowa Kiwanuka, Edwin Karugire and Osama Ssebuufu.

The Electoral Commission was represented by Joseph Matsiko, Alfred Okello Oryem, Elison Karuhanga, Eric Sabiiti and Jet Tumwebaze.

The Attorney General William Byaruhanga was assisted by Solicitor General Francis Atoke and senior attorneys Martin Mwambutsya, Christine Kahwa and George Karemeera.

Source: Daily Monitor

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