Defiance is legal, Besigye tells court

Dr Besigye flashes the FDC symbol at the Kasangati Magistrate’s Court in Wakiso District recently. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA

Kampala- Dr Kizza Besigye has defended his defiance campaign in the Constitutional Court, saying it is a lawful means by which citizens can boldly resist the illegal and unconstitutional acts and conduct of any person or authority to keep themselves in power against the provisions of the Constitution.

The former Forum for Democratic Change presidential candidate submitted a written defence in court yesterday in response to the petition filed by the Attorney General seeking to permanently ban the Opposition party’s defiance campaign activities.

Dr Besigye did not deny using the word “defiance” throughout his presidential election campaigns or even calling on citizens to peacefully resist actions of any person who illegally retains themselves in power.

“I occasionally told those who attended my campaign meetings or rallies or events that my candidature would win the election through defiance. The import of this message was that even with the odds, the law, systems and processes heavily lopsided against my candidature, triumph would still be possible because of defiance by the citizens of Uganda of any unlawful and unjust actions, directives or practices of public authorities relating to elections,” reads his written reply to the Attorney General’s petition.

Besigye defends campaign
Dr Besigye, who is on remand on separate charges of treason in Luzira prison, also stated that his election campaigns were conducted within the provisions of the electoral laws.

He said his use of the word “defiance” during the campaigns did not amount to breach of any electoral law, otherwise he would have been charged in court.

He also contends that calling for an international audit of the presidential election results is a commonly used method internationally for settling questions about the quality of an election.

However, Dr Besigye admitted that he knows one of the avenues of challenging results of a presidential election is to file a petition in the Supreme Court, but said he was denied that option. “I did not file such a petition because I was denied the opportunity to do so having been arrested and held in confinement at my home in Kasangati,” he said.

The former presidential candidate further contended that he did not obtain or retain control of the government of Uganda or sought to do so by other means other than through the ballot box as demonstrated by his participation in the elections.

He asked the Constitutional Court to dismiss the Attorney General’s petition and order government to pay him damages for stress, pain and any other suffering caused to him.

His appeal to court
Dr Besigye also asked court to declare as unconstitutional the acts and conduct of any person who unlawfully retains themselves in power and another declaration that it’s not illegal for any citizen to rise up and defend the supremacy of the Constitution.

He urged the judges to declare that any act performed by any person or persons or institution by which the Constitution was nullified or overthrown in order to retain control of the government of Uganda regarding the February 2016 elections was unconstitutional.

The hearing of the petition against FDC and Dr Besigye begins today before a panel of the five justices of the Constitutional Court led by Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma.

Other justices are Richard Buteera, Elizabeth Musoke, Catherine Bamugemereire and Cheborion Barishaki.

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