Besigye, Mbabazi polls petition deadline today

Mr Mbabazi

Kampala- By close of business yesterday, neither Mr Amama Mbabazi nor Dr Kizza Besigye had confirmed if they will petition the Supreme Court to challenge the outcome of the February 18 presidential elections whose outcome the duo continue to dispute.

Today is the 10th day since the elections results were announced and the last day of the window, which the law provides for any candidate to dispute election results in court.

Instead, the two sides were engaged in meetings to try and reach a final conclusion but no positive signs had emerged by press time.

“I have no answer for you yet on that matter,” said Mr Severino Twinobusingye, one of Mr Mbabazi’s lawyers. “I cannot authoritatively comment on whether we are going to court or not for now.”

The Electoral Commission chairman, Mr Badru Kiggundu, on February 20 announced that Mr Museveni had won the 2016 elections with 60.7 per cent, an outcome that was rejected by the Forum for Democratic Change, the party that sponsored Dr Besigye, the runner-up, according to the EC.

Mr Mbabazi, who came a distant third, according to EC results, also rejected the outcome citing massive fraud. International observers noted in their reports the election fell short of meeting acceptable international standards.
Police have since kept siege on Dr Besigye’s home, restricting his movement, even when the FDC candidate indicated he intended to challenge the elections in court. By press time yesterday, Dr Besigye was still under house arrest.

Speaking to Daily Monitor at Lutete Trading Centre last Saturday after he was blocked from accessing Dr Besigye’s home, Mr Mbabazi confirmed his team was investigating the events that took place on the polling day and he would base his decision on their findings.

“Going to court is one of the options we are considering...,” Mr Mbabazi said.

A source in Mr Amama’s camp said there is a “very high likelihood that a petition will be lodged [today] but I can’t conclusively say they (lawyers) have finalised on the nitty-gritties because they are still meeting.”

At the weekend, Mr David Mpanga, one of Dr Besigye’s lawyers, said he would not be part of the FDC leaders’ legal team, arguing for the petition if police continue to block Besigye from meeting his legal team.

“I will not be acting for @kizzabesigye1 [Kizza Besigye] in a petition when he is under such a handicap,” he twitted.

Mr Mpanga twitted the comment after being blocked by police from proceeding to Dr Besigye’s home where a meeting between the doctor’s lawyers and a team led by Mr Mbabazi had been scheduled to discuss the possibility of lodging a petition.

“I do not think that @kizzabesigye1 [Kizza Besigye] has had a fair opportunity to prepare for a petition. This is very unfortunate for him and for the country,” he said.

Gathering evidence
The 10-day period given to the aggrieved candidate is ideally meant to allow them time to gather evidence and put together a water-tight case before the bench.

However, just last week, FDC’s secretary general, Mr Nandala Mafabi, took to his official Facebook page decrying the arrest, by State operatives, of people who served as polling agents across the country and the disappearance of their Declaration Forms (DR) on which results at respective polling stations were recorded.

Those polling agents with their DR forms as evidence, would be potential witnesses if FDC chooses to head to court.

Daily Monitor could not independently verify claims that FDC has decided not to proceed to court as various party officials could not be reached for a comment.

Another narrative from those familiar with the matter is that the two sides, Mr Mbabazi and Dr Besigye’s are most likely to file a joint petition.