Did Mbabazi Successfully Challenge the 2016 Presidential Election? Top story

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In short
The Supreme Court is set to make its ruling on the Amama Mbabazi presidential election petition tomorrow Thursday, March 31st. March 31st is the constitutional deadline for which the petition, filed on March 1st, is to be disposed of.

The Supreme Court is set to make its ruling on the presidential election petition filed by former presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi.

The ruling will be delivered tomorrow Thursday, March 31st, the constitutional deadline for which the petition, filed on March 1st, is to be disposed of.

At the start of the hearing of the petition, the Chief Justice Bart Katureebe stressed the tight deadline dictated by the 1995 Constitution. The Constitution stipulates that once a presidential election petition has been filed, the Supreme Court has to hear and dispose it off within 30 days.

In the petition, Mbabazi contends, among others, that the Electoral Commission did not comply with the law in holding the presidential election and as a result President Museveni was irregularly re-elected.

 The nine-judge panel has the Chief Justice Bart Katureebe and justices Faith Mwondha, Eldad Mwanbutsya, Stella Arach Amoko, Jotham Tumwesigye, Augustine Nshimye, Esther Kisakye, Okumu Wengi and Lilian Tibatemwa.

Mbabazi's legal team is headed by Mohmed Mbabazi while President Museveni's legal team is headed by Didas Nkurunziza. The Electoral Commission legal team is led by Enos Tumusiime while Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana heads the Attorney General team.

During two days of pre-hearing, the parties agreed on six issues and three facts to be determined by the Supreme Court.

The six agreed issues are:

Whether there was non-compliance with the provisions of the Presidential Elections Act and Electoral Commission Act in the conduct of the 2016 presidential election;
 
Whether the said election was not conducted in compliance with the principles laid down in the provisions of the Presidential Elections Act and the Electoral Commission Act;
 
If the two foregoing issues are proved to be true, whether such non-compliance affected the result of the 2016 presidential election in a substantial manner;
 
Whether an offence under the Presidential Elections Act was committed in connection with the presidential election by the first respondent, President Museveni, personally or with his knowledge, consent or approval;
 
Whether the third respondent, the Attorney General, is properly joined as a party in the petition; and
 
Whether the petitioner is entitled to any of the reliefs sought.
 
The parties also agreed on three facts:
 
That there was a presidential election conducted by the second respondent, the Electoral Commission, on the 18th of March 2016;
 
That on the 20th of February 2016 the first respondent, President Museveni, was declared as validly elected a president  with five million, six hundred and seventeen thousand, five hundred and three votes, representing 60.75 percent of the valid votes cast; and
 
That on the same day, the 20th of March 2016, the petitioner, Amama Mbabazi, was declared to have polled one hundred thirty two thousand, five hundred and seventy four votes, representing 1.43 percent of the valid votes cast.
 
The parties' submissions focused on these agreed issues and agreed facts, with each presenting evidence and legal provisions to back the submissions. Court allowed the parties to make skeletal submissions due to time pressure.
 
Nine Makerere University law dons, led by Prof. Joe Oloka Onyango, were also allowed to make an application as Amici Curie, or Friends of Court.
 
In the application, filed on March 17th, the dons made requests for 15 electoral reforms and urged the Supreme Court to not only rule on them but also ensure the executive and legislative arms of government make the reforms.
 
In their argument, they said the mess that characterized the 2016 general election could have been avoided had the Court's previous recommendations been followed.
 
The hearing of the petition ended on Saturday, March 19th, leaving the judges with just 11 days within which to come out with a ruling.
 
Based on previous Supreme Court rulings on presidential elections, the judges will make summary, pinpointed ruling, due to the time constraint, with the fleshed up or detailed ruling to be ready later.

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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."