Dismiss Mbabazi's petition, says Museveni Legal team Top story

3611 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Musevenis lawyers say the petitioners evidence is baseless. They want court to dismiss the petition.

Lawyers defending President Yoweri Museveni in the ongoing presidential election petition in the Supreme Court say the allegations and evidence adduced by former presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi to claim Museveni was not duly re-elected are baseless. They want the petition dismissed.

Joseph Matsiko, one of Museveni's defence lawyers, told court that the evidence submitted by the petitioner on a range of allegations is not credible nor sufficient to support the allegations in the amended petition.

On the allegation that the biometric voter verification system takes at least two minutes to verify a voter, Matsiko said the claim was not tenable because the witness, one Duncan Mpogo from Luwero never proved that he has the expertise in the usage of the machine.

He said Mpogo, who claimed to be an IT technician, never proved his academic credentials and never said where, when and by whom he was trained on usage of the machine.

Matsiko said to the contrary an Electoral Commission witness, Pontius Namugera, proved that he not only has the expertise but also that the Bio-metric Voter system  takes 30 seconds to verify a voter.

On allegations that over one million voters in Wakiso and Kampala were disenfranchised when voting started late, Matsiko  says even if all the the over one million votes were added to candidates in the race , they would not reduced Museveni's percentage from 60 percent to 54 percent.

On claim that Wakiso and Kampala are not the strongholds of Museveni, Matsiko said in 2011 Museveni won in Wakiso with 49.2 percent compared to Kizza Besigye's 42 percent.

He said in Kampala Museveni and Besigye were neck-and-neck. He added that by 2016 general election there was no proof that Museveni had no stronghold in Wakiso and Kampala.

On retiring of old voters register which disenfranchised some voters, Matsiko said there was not only no proof of anybody who said he or she was disenfranchised but also that the new system has the capacity of identifying non voters.

He also said instead the national voters register was compiled, maintained and updated contrary to the allegation.

On alleged distribution of hoes to bribe voters, Matsiko said there is no evidence that Museveni gave or ordered hoes to be distributed and that this was the same for claims that Museveni bribed voters with 250,000 each which were sent to all villages in Uganda.

On the allegation that Museveni, after the Ntungamo clashes between his supporters and that of Mbabazi, threatened that those who beat up his supporters had "touched the anus of a leopard", Matsiko said the petitioner neither pleaded it nor reported the actual words said.

He said it should be treated as an accusation and defamation which requires that the claimant produce the actual words spoken.

When challenged by the Chief Justice Bart Katureebe that the allegation referred to the act of the first respondent, Matsiko said since the petitioner ought to have provided the entire statement and plead that reference was made to him.

On claims that Museveni threatened war if not elected, Matsiko said even that was not pleaded verbatim yet it is a requirement. When challenged by Justice Eldad Mwangushya that but President Museveni accepted that he made the statement, Matsiko said the burden rests with the petitioner to which Mwambutsya said the burden does not shift at all.

On the allegation that Museveni threatened injury or harm, in reference to Mbabazi's bodyguard Christopher Aine whose disappearance remains a mystery, Matsiko said Museveni did not threaten anybody when he said "those who beat up people in Ntungamo will pay for their actions".

On allegations of intimidation of other candidates, use of ungazzetted poling stations, interference with electioneering, interference with electioneering by members of the First Family, intimidation by the police and other security agencies, preventing consultations, chasing of agents from polling stations, ballot stuffing, campaigning on voting day, delayed counting and tallying, breach of secret balloting, and underage voting, Matsiko said there are no evidences because there are no particulars.

On unequal treatment of some candidates by state , in particular Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) and New Vision Group, Matsiko said there is no evidence because the petitioner never sought media coverage.

To which Justice Mwangushya said if the Constitution says UBC should cover everything it cannot be incumbent upon the candidate to seek coverage. Matsiko insisted that Mbabazi never attached a report to support this claim. He said New Vision CEO Robert Kabushenga did say they covered the candidates fairly, accurately and in a balanced manner, citing that Museveni had 30.2 percent coverage compared to Mbabazi at 27.8 percent. He said it should not be forgotten that Museveni is also president.

Matsiko also cited reports by African Centre for Media Excellence, which carried out surveys on media coverage of presidential candidates, which talked of balanced coverage, although he never gave specifics.

The Museveni team also denied allegations that government resources were used to favor Museveni's candidature. Matsiko said there was no evidence that Jennifer Musisi, the Executive Director of Kampala Capital City Authority and Allen Kagina of Uganda National Roads Authority campaigned for Museveni but were instead performing their duties.

On the blockage of social media, Matsiko defended the blocking of social media on voting day and after. he said it was appropriate to block the three social media platforms provided they were a threat to national security.

But Justice Eldad Mwangushya wondered why social media would be blocked at the time when the Electoral Commission had claimed that they were moving to better technology in order to improve transparency.

Matsiko answered that only Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp were blocked and other internet platforms and traditional media were not blocked, prompting the Chief Justice Katureebe wonder why then the national security threats were not applicable to the other media channels. Matsiko answered that there was no evidence pointing to other channels.

On allegations that the petitioner's electioneering in Fort Portal was disrupted by a helicopter, Matsiko said there is no evidence, be it video evidence, as well as no evidence of disruption or chaos at his rally because it had not started due to heavy rains.

He said the allegation was a gross exaggeration. He concluded that Mbabazi's allegations have not been proved and prayed that the Court uses Museveni's answers to dismiss them.



About the author

David Rupiny
In his own words, David Rupiny says, "I am literally a self-trained journalist with over 12 years of experience. Add the formative, student days then I can trace my journalism roots to 1988 when as a fresher in Ordinary Level I used to report for The Giraffe News at St Aloysius College Nyapea in northern Uganda.

In addition to URN for which I have worked for five years now, I have had stints at Radio Paidha, Radio Pacis, Nile FM and KFM. I have also contributed stories for The Crusader, The New Vision and The Monitor. I have also been a contributor for international news organisations like the BBC and Institute for War and Peace Reporting. I am also a local stringer for Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

I am also a media entrepreneur. I founded The West Niler newspaper and now runs Rainbow Media Corporation (Rainbow Radio 88.2 FM in Nebbi). My areas of interest are conflict and peacebuilding, business, climate change, health and children and young people, among others."