You’ve a month to table electoral reforms, Supreme Court tells government

Attorney General William Byaruhanga. File Photo

What you need to know:

  • Objective. The directive is aimed at fostering fair play, democracy, law and order in politics of the country.
  • Yesterday, the justices observed that the objective of the court’s orders was to foster fair play, democracy, law and order in politics of the country.

Kampala. The Supreme Court yesterday ordered government to ensure that legislation of its earlier electoral reform orders are tabled before Parliament within one month.

A panel of seven justices in their ruling, observed that the Attorney General (AG), who is the chief government legal adviser, had made efforts to ensure that the court’s earlier directives on electoral reforms were followed but not as they should.
The justices are Stella Arach-Amoko, Eldad Mwangusya, Rubby Opio-Aweri, Faith Mwondha, Paul Mugamba, Richard Buteera and Augustine Nshimye.

“The proposed legislation for implementation of the court’s recommendation should be laid before Parliament within one month from the date of this ruling. We find that the Attorney General has made efforts to follow up the recommendations but is as yet to achieve the desired objective of the court,” ruled the justices.

Adding: “He was not expected to be the sole participant. As an institution of government in getting the laws enacted the court recommendations could only be implemented in time if and when all organs of the State played their roles in the process of enacting the recommended laws.”

Further, the court directed the AG to ensure consultation with other organs of the State to ensure that priority is given to the implementation of all the court’s earlier electoral reform recommendations.
The AG was also directed to report to court the progress of the proposed legislation within three months from the date of the ruling.

In March, Makerere University law dons; Prof Fredrick Ssempebwa, Prof Fredrick Jjuuko, and a regional organisation for constitutional development (Kituo Cha Katiba), sued AG for failing to follow through the 10 recommendations of the Supreme Court it had made after the 2016 elections to better electoral reforms.
Yesterday, the justices observed that the objective of the court’s orders was to foster fair play, democracy, law and order in politics of the country.

They further stated that the court set a timeline for the follow-up because the enacted laws should be passed and effected in time for all stake holders to implement and comply with the laws in subsequent elections.

The Supreme Court, while delivering the verdict on presidential election petition filed by former prime minister Amama Mbabazi against President Museveni in 2016, said the recommendations would improve the 2021 General Election and beyond.

The court also directed the AG to follow up these recommendations and report back to court within two years.
But the aforementioned Makerere law dons in March lamented of how the AG had not fully complied with the directives of the court, two years later.

They were therefore seeking declarations that the AG is acting in contempt of court by neglecting, refusing and or refusing to implement the said orders.


Some 2016 recommendations. Enlargement of the time to file presidential election petition and determine it be increased from 30 days to 60, allow oral evidence be used in presidential elections as opposed to only affidavits, enlarge the time to hold fresh presidential elections in case of annulment from 20 days.

Other electoral reforms are; if there is introduction of technology to aid elections, the same should be introduced well within time to train the officials and sensitise voters on how it works, amend electoral laws to provide for all presidential candidates equal time and space on State owned media to present their programmes, enact a law to prohibit the giving of donations etc.
by all candidates including the President in order to create a level playing field for all.

The other electoral reforms are; to enact a law to make it explicit that public servants are prohibited from involvement in political campaigns and law be enacted to permit the AG to be joined as a respondent in presidential petitions.