Museveni, EC insist there’s no time to amend Bobi Wine petition

Tuesday February 09 2021
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President Museveni

By Veronica Kayaga

President Museveni, the Electoral Commission and the Attorney General who are respondents in a case in which National Unity Platform (NUP) presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi petitioned the Supreme Court challenging Mr Museveni’s victory have asked the judges to dismiss his application seeking amendment.

Mr Kyagulanyi through his lawyers led by Mr Medard Ssegona have asked court to amend the petition to allow more evidence on grounds that after the presidential elections on January 14, he (Kyagulanyi) was placed under house arrest which subjected him to post election detention trauma that hindered him from putting together all the evidence he had for his petition in the stipulated time (15 days).

However, Mr Museveni’s lawyers led by Mr Ebert Byenkya have told the panel of nine Justices led by Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny Dollo, that the power to amend Mr Kyagulanyi's petition in this short time frame doesn't arise because the rules of the Supreme Court have also  provide for specific times within which to file and hear such petitions.

Byenkya contended that if the Court is inclined to grant Kyagulanyi's application it should not allow amendment after the time to file the petition has expired.

"The first respondent (Museveni) objects to the [petition] amendments on a number of grounds. The first is that the determination of presidential elections petitions does not provide for amendments. In fact, it does not allow amendments," Mr Byenkya said.

Mr Byenkya asked the court to dismiss the application, arguing that it is out of the specified 15 days’ deadline stipulated in the law.

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When the Chief Justice Owiny-Dollo asked Mr Byenkya about the inconvenience of the house arrest on Kyagulanyi's petition, he (Byenkya0 argueed that other National Unity Platform (NUP) officials and lawyers should have prepared the petition while he was under house arrest.

The Electoral Commission's  legal team led by Mr Joseph Matsiko also argued that what is comprised in Mr Kyagulanyi's application for  amendment are new grounds that were  never included in the original petition and therefore should not be admitted by the Supreme Court after the expiry of the 15 days within which he had to file the petition.

“It's not permissible to introduce new grounds outside the time frame allowed by the constitution, so the amendment should not be allowed,” Mr Matsiko said.

There are 15 electoral offenses including bribery that Mr Kyagulanyi accuses the respondents.

However, Mr Matsiko argues that the amendments in the Amama Mbabazi election petition which Mr Kyagulanyi is relying on, were ordinary amendments not new evidence and he therefore, invited the Justices to dismiss the application with costs.

"When it comes to the amendment of the presidential elections petition, the constitution does not provide for amendment especially when it introduces fresh causes of actions because the time stipulated (15 days) is cast in stone," Mr Matsiko argues.

In his response, the Attorney General, Mr William Byaruhanga (3rd respondent) also asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the application for amendment.

"The election petition is constitutionally time-bound. The petitioner has had time to read through my answers and then come up with amendments. The said (amendment) application is intended to defeat the answers of the respondent,” Mr Byaruhanga said.

By the time of filing this story, court was still hearing the arguments and submissions from Mr Kyagulanyi and the respondents’ legal teams.

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