The High Court in Masaka has dismissed an application for a vote recount in the Lwemiyaga County Member of Parliament election in Sembabule District. The application challenges the victory of incumbent MP Theodore Ssekikubo.
Mr Ssekikubo and Mr Patrick Nkalubo, his long-time political arch-rival, have since the February 18 parliamentary elections been embroiled in a battle over the contentious vote recount application filed before the Masaka Chief Magistrate’s Court.
The Electoral Commission declared Mr Ssekikubo, who was the ruling NRM flag bearer in the race, winner of the hotly contested race after securing 9,272 votes against Mr Nkalubo’s 8,074 votes.
However, Mr Nkalubo went to court, saying the declaration was illegal on grounds that ballots from several polling stations were never tallied.
Before court could decide on the matter, Mr Ssekikubo through his lawyers contested the magistrate’s jurisdiction on hearing a recount application after the four mandatory days had elapsed.
However, presiding Chief Magistrate Samuel Munobe referred the matter to the Constitutional Court for interpretation, which court instructed the magistrate to further manage the matter.
The Constitutional Court ruling was delivered a day after Mr Ssekikubo had been gazetted as MP, promptinghe magistrate to order for his de-gazettement.
The decision prompted Mr Ssekikubo to seek High Court redress, applying for stay of de-gazettement and hearing of the vote recount application by a lower court arguing that it had lost independence.
Justice Lawrence Gidudu, who presided over a High Court session in Masaka on Monday, dismissed the recount application, ruling that it had been overtaken by events and faulted the Chief Magistrate for prolonging its hearing.
The judge further described as outrageous the magistrate’s order to degazette Ssekikubo , ruling that the magistrates lack the powers to pass such orders.