Independent presidential candidate Mr Amama Mbabazi has finally filed his petition before the Supreme Court, challenging president Yoweri Museveni’s victory in the February 18 elections.
Journalists who had been waiting to cover the petition in the Kampala based court since morning breathed a sigh of relief when Mr Mbabazi’s lawyers arrived at the court, from downtown Kampala, at 5:07pm.
The court’s registrar Tom Chemtai received the lawyers and took them through the requirements for a petition.
He spent four minutes on this.
Among other requirements, the lawyers had to pay Shs400, 000 to file the petition and Shs1 million, which serves a security for costs in case the petition fails, which they did.
The respondents named in the petition are president–elect Yoweri Museveni who was declared winner with 60.75 of votes cast, the Electoral Commission (EC) and the Attorney General (AG).
Mr Severino Twinobusingye, one of the two lawyers who petitioned the court on behalf of Mr Mbabazi, said they are petitioning the court on several grounds.
“The grounds of the petition mainly are on noncompliance,” Mr Twinobusingye later told journalists. “That is where the Electoral Commission failed to follow the provisions of the law. Our biggest complaint against the Electoral Commission is that there was no tally centre. So, how can you say you have tallied the results yet you had no tally centre? Kiggundu [EC chairperson], the results he was announcing, where was he getting them from? These are some of the things we want him [Kiggundu] to come and tell court and how he did it.”
Mr Twinobusingye said they would also want to hear from the EC if it kept the electoral materials – such as ballot papers – well, bearing in mind that there were reports that of people carrying ballot papers on the streets even before the actual voting.
Mr Mbabazi’s team will also want the court to pronounce itself on bribery, especially the case of the National Resistance Movement’s presidential candidate, Museveni, who gave out hoes to some people in West Nile towards the end of the political campaigns.
“Our prayers are that all those crimes committed and the noncompliance with the law substantially affected the results. As such the court should annul it [election result] and have another election,” Mr Twinobusingye said.
The Supreme Court has to serve all the respondents, who are expected to respond, at latest, within three days.
The hearing should then start within five days of the respondents responding.
Supreme Court registrar Tom Chemtai says the Supreme Court would begin hearing the petition next week.
“The hearing of the petition is going to be marathon, including on weekends,” Mr Chemtai told journalists who had gathered at the Supreme Court a few minutes earlier.
Ugandans who will not find space in the courtroom will be able to follow the proceedings via television.
The court must dispense with the case within 30 days.
Chief Justice Bart Katureeba now has to constitute carom of seven justices of the Supreme Court to dispose of the petition.
Last week, Electoral Commission spokesperson Mr Jotham Taremwa said via social media that those who were not happy with the results should petition court.
Following the Supreme Court’s refusal to annul the results of the 2006 and 2011 presidential elections, Dr Besigye, said he would not petition the court again.
However, he had of recent indicated that could petition the court – provide the police allowed him to move freely to gather evidence.
The ten-day period within which one must petition the court elapsed today without the police allowing him to leave his home in Kasangati, about 20 kilometres north of Kampala.
Police said via Facebook that Dr Besigye does not need to personally petition the court; his lawyers could do that on his behalf.
Mr David Mpanga, one of the lawyers who were expected to represent Dr Besigye, later said he could not do it because Dr Besigye had not been given ample time to gather evidence.
Today evening, FDC president Major General Mugisha Muntu, said the party had not been able to petition the election results because of the roadblocks the government had placed in FDC’s way.