Supreme Court allows Makerere law dons to join Amama petition, rejects CSOs

Supreme Court has allowed an application filed by Makerere University law dons to join former independent presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi petition as friends of court but rejected the same by CSOs. Photo by Dominic Bukenya

Court has allowed Makerere University law lecturers to join the presidential election petition in which defeated independent candidate Mr Amama Mbabazi is seeking an annulment of Mr Yoweri Museveni’s victory.

The nine lecturers including Prof Joe Oloka-Onyango, Prof Sylvia Tamale, Prof Christopher Mbazira, Dr Ronald Naluwairo, Dr Rose Nakayi, Dr Busingye Kabumba, Mr Daniel Ruhweza, Dr Kakungulu Mayambala and Mr Daniel Ngabirano, had on March 9 applied to the Supreme Court seeking to be part of the petition as amici curiae (friends of court).

In their application the dons emphasised that their role in the petition would be purely neutral, focusing on providing guidance, considering their expertise in matters of law.
In a court ruling read by Justice Lillian Tibatemwa-Ekirikubinza Monday morning, the judges said: “We are satisfied that the applicants raise relevant points of law and will benefit court in the hearing.”
“The Court is satisfied that the applicants are quite competent, experienced in the field of law and human rights," she said.
According to justice Tibatemwa, public interest outweighs the concerns and the objections raised by the respondents in which they sought to block the admission of Makerere law dons.

Court also warned the lecturers to heed its orders that included; filing in their brief expertise summary in the registry by March 17and also be served onto respective parties, the other order was that they should stick to only law while filing in the their brief summary.
However, court rejected a similar application by civil society organisations (CSOs).
In the ruling read by Justice Stella Amoko, court said CSOs had not met requirements to be admitted as amici curiae, arguing that the expertise of Mr Crispy Kaheru, which the applicant had relied on to justify its application was not enough.

In an affidavit sworn by Mr Crispy Kaheru, the coordinator of Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda on behalf of CSOs, the applicant said Mr Kaheru’s expertise in election observation could provide useful guidance in determining the petition.
However, court said it could not rely on the expertise of an individual to allow the application but also declined a request by Mr Ebert Byenkya, Mr Museveni’s lawyer to dismiss the application with costs.

In further rejecting the CSOs, the justices noted that having already issued out their reports regarding the conduct of the elections as election observers, allowing them to be joined onto the petition would be prejudicial.
“We disallow the application. We make no orders to costs,” she said.
Eight CSOs, including Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI), The Association of Women Lawyers, Chapter Four Uganda, Human Rights Network Uganda, and Centre for Constitutional Governance, had applied to court to join the polls petition.

Others included: Kituo Cha Katiba Eastern African, Legal Aid Service Providers Network Uganda and Transparency International – Uganda.
Last Saturday, lawyers from the three respondents including Mr Museveni, Electoral Commission and Attorney General had asked court to dismiss the two applications arguing that the composition of some of the applicants are partisan, who have previously been written articles that are biased in nature.

Mr Amama Mbabazi petitioned the Supreme Court challenging the victory of Mr Museveni who stood on the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) ticket in the highly contested February 18 election results.
Upon reading out the two rulings in connection to amicus curie, the court has now embarked on hearing the main petition..



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