The president of Uganda Law Society (ULS), Ms Ruth Sebatindira has said she will, if challenged, defend a statement in which she questioned the just concluded presidential elections.
On February 23, Ms Sebatindira had said in a statement, that “a sombre mood hovers over many parts of our country after the recently concluded presidential and parliamentary elections”.
She said it was clear to any observer that there were deep-seated grievances among Ugandans highlighting the treatment of Dr Kizza Besigye, who, by the time of releasing the results, was and continues to be under house arrest. Since releasing the statement, however, Ms Sebatindira has come under attack from some members of Uganda Law Society, who say her statement was partisan and disregarded the outcomes of the ULS Election Observation Team. 49 lawyers subscribing to ULS have since petitioned the ULS Secretary, Mr Ahmed Kalule demanding the withdrawal of Ms Sebatindira’s statement, which they say does not represent the position of the Society.
The lawyers led by Mr Francis Harimwomugasho and Paul Wanyoto argue that the “partisan statement disregarded the views and findings of the ULS team that was established to observe and comment on the findings of the electoral process”.
“In as far as the statement is based on conjecture and hearsay, it must be set aside and replaced with a statement issued by a team that was duly appointed to observe and comment on the electoral process by the ULS,” reads the petition in part.
But in another statement released yesterday (Sunday) Ms Sebatindira reaffirmed her position saying: “I stand by the statement that I issued and I am ready to defend it at any EGM [extraordinary general meeting] called to challenge me, should it be deemed necessary, I shall step down as your president.”
In the recent statement, she also says, “…there is pain, anger, suffering and bitterness in our communities which we simply cannot ignore. We should be thinking about how our country recovers from the effects of the elections to foster peace, stability and democracy.” She added, “We in fact must speak out when things do not go well in our country and we must provide solutions to some of the challenges that we face as a nation. We are the voice of the voiceless.”
Yesterday Ms Sebatindira also denied claims alleging she had sent out an email to ULS members and the media containing an interim statement of the ULS Election Observations, which concluded that the “elections were free and fair”.
At an appropriate time, she said the ULS Elections Observation Team will release and share its interim report with the public and the Electoral Commission.
The EU Observer Mission and the Commonwealth Observer Mission both questioned the poll results, saying the election fell short of meeting acceptable international standards.