Uganda Elections 2016

Court orders EC to produce district vote tally sheets

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A bench of Supreme Court Judges listen to submissions from a Bar of lawyers adjacent to them. PHOTO BY ERIC DOMINIC BUKENYA 

By Anthony Wesaka, Isaac Imaka and Ivan Okuda

Posted  Friday, March 11  2016 at  02:00

In Summary

What is happening? Yesterday, the Supreme Court resumed the pre-hearing session of the presidential election petition filed by Amama Mbabazi seeking nullification of president-elect Yoweri Museveni’s election .In the petition, Mbabazi, a former presidential candidate in the February 18 election, is cited as the Petitioner while president Museveni is referred to as First Respondent with Electoral Commission (EC) and Attorney General (AG) being second and third respondents respectively. Daily Monitor’s Anthony Wesaka, Isaac Imaka and Ivan Okuda attended court and captured highlights of the proceedings.

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Court starts at 10: 18am
Mwesigwa Rukutana (Deputy Attorney General): Appearance for all the other parties is still the same. My lords, we are ready to proceed. But before we proceed, the respondents have some issues to raise.
My lords, when we appeared before court on March 7, 2016, counsel for the petitioner, Mr Asuman Basalirwa raised an alarm to your lordships alleging that 15 of the petitioner’s witnesses had been arrested by police and other security agencies at the petitioner’s residence and that they were being detained at Kireka SIU.

My lords, counsel sought this court’s protection for the witnesses. My lord the Chief Justice, you ordered the Attorney General to look into the matter that if the witnesses were arrested on unlawful charges, they should be released and be given protection. The AG has carried out exhaustive inquiries and the allegations were found to be false and malicious.

Our inquiries have revealed that no one by the names mentioned before this court had been arrested from Mbabazi’s residence or anywhere else and detained at Kireka SIU. My lords, we communicated our findings to this court yesterday by our letter. I presume our letter is on record. Our letter attaches a letter from the IGP denying the allegations.

I am now registering a protest against this unprofessional, unbecoming and malicious behaviour of counsel for the petitioner. This is perjury. We appreciate this is a very important case and all local and international media have keen interest in the proceedings. Indeed the allegations were widely carried by both local and international media. These allegations were false.

Counsel’s behavior therefore, begs for an answer why the petitioner or his counsel raised such malicious allegations against the police force or the security agencies of this country.

My lord, against that background in mind yesterday we were served a copy of a letter addressed to this court claiming that the petitioner’s lawyers’ chambers were broken into on the night of March 8, 2016, and that their computers, affidavits and documents were stolen.

My lords, I don’t intend to assume the role of an investigating officer but considering the behaviour of counsel I have already alluded to, I won’t be surprised if the alleged break-in was a stage-managed inside arrangement or a hoax intended to raise sympathy from this honourable court, the public or cover-up for some gaps or just buy time.

Having said that my lords, it is my pleasure that counsel for the petitioner should be prevailed upon to refrain from that unbecoming behaviour or be reprimanded by this court. As lawyers, we are officials of this court and our role is to assist the court to reach a fair and just decision. We cannot do that by misleading court by telling lies and raising false alarms.

Chief Justice Bart Katureebe (CJ): You have made your point.

Rukutana: Much obliged, my lord.

Didas Nkurunziza (Museveni’s lawyer): My lords, when this court sat on Monday, you ordered the petitioner to serve the amended petition, their affidavit evidence and also the annexures that we complained about missing from the original petition.

The same day, we were served the amended petition but nothing else since then; neither the affidavit nor the annexures we have consistently complained about.
My lord, I pray that the lawyer be admonished.

Enos Tumusiime (counsel for EC): My lords, I associate with what the AG has stated as well as counsel for the 1st respondent. In addition, I wish to point out to court that up to now, the petitioner has not served a copy of the amended petition and the additional affidavits upon the 2nd respondent and that includes the 2nd respondent’s counsel.

Yesterday, we wrote to the registrar of this court drawing to his attention this fact and a copy was delivered to Micheal Akampurira & Co Advocates (counsel for Mbabazi), as directed by this court. We have had to rely on photocopies of counsel for the 1st respondent in the interest of time. We beg this court that we should be served.

Secondly, at the last hearing before this court, we pointed out that the affidavits which were supposed to be attached to the amended petition were not attached. This court directed the petitioner to serve all the parties copies of the amended petition and those affidavits before close of business on Monday afternoon. This was not done and I believe that time the alleged break-in had not happened. At least there is no allegation of break-in at Akampurira’s Chambers.

(CJ asks Mbabazi lawyers to respond)
Asuman Basalirwa: My lords, I have listened to the submission by the AG and I wish to respond as follows: When I raised this matter before this court, I had an informal discussion with the learned AG Fred Ruhindi outside the court premises.

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