Wednesday March 27 2013

Lawyer challenges election of new ULS president in court



Hardly a week into office, newly-elected president of the Uganda Law Society (ULS), Ms Ruth Sebatindira, has been dragged to court by a city lawyer, challenging the legality of the election process.

Mr Simon Tendo Kabenge petitioned the High Court in Kampala yesterday, alleging that he was discriminated by the ULS in favour of Ms Sebatindira during nomination and participation as a candidate for the disputed election because he sued the body in the Constitutional Court.

Mr Kabenge has also sued ULS over the same.
Through his attorneys, Mr Kabenge is seeking declarations by the court that Ms Sebatindira’s election contravened the law and that the March 22 and 23 ULS meeting was not convened within the law.
He also wants court to order fresh elections.

According to the petition, Mr Kabenge is seeking “a declaration that the 2nd respondent (Ms Sebatindira) was illegally elected as the president of the 1st respondent (ULS) at the annual general meeting held on the March 22 and 23 2013”. He is also seeking “an order directing all the office bearers of the 1st respondent to immediately vacate their respective offices that they occupy as a result of ULS’s annual general meeting”.

“The election was a sham, contrary to reason, biased and prejudicially disfranchised members of the 1st respondent (ULS) from participating in the election on the basis of known and internationally acceptable principals of voting by ballot which are also a requirement of the law,” the suit reads in part. ULS is an association of lawyers charged with ensuring high levels of professionalism among lawyers.

Ms Sebatindira is the first female president of ULS.

Mr Kabenge, in his suit contends that an annual general meeting of ULS that saw Ms Sebatindira voted as president, breached all the statutory provisions of the law governing it. He cites voting by caucusing instead of the internationally acceptable principals of voting by ballot and the voting process not being presided over by the out-going president, Mr James Sebugenyi Mukasa as some of the irregularities.

Mr Kabenge states that his candidacy was unjustly annulled by former president Mr Bruce Kyerere and that he was denied a fair hearing. Mr Richard Lumu and Mr Nicholas Opio, were other lawyers who unsuccessfully took part in the ULS’s election. Court is yet to summon ULS and Ms Sabatindira to file their defence before a hearing date can be fixed.