VP Ssekandi in fresh trouble over elections

Written by Sadab Kitatta Kaaya
Thursday, 27 October 2011 00:20
Election troubles: Vice President, Edward Ssekandi

His main challenger in the February 18 parliamentary elections could have withdrawn the election petition challenging his declaration as Bukoto Central MP, but Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi may soon find himself in the dock over the same matter.Four former witnesses in Jude Mbabaali’s election petition have petitioned the High Court in Masaka, calling for the reinstatement of the election petition for a final determination on grounds that it was unlawfully disposed of.

In a miscellaneous application, No. 108 of 2011, filed at the High Court in Masaka, October 20, the applicants, in their affidavits, contend that the procedure through which the order for leave of court to withdraw the petition was granted was illegal and contrary to the laws governing the withdrawal of election petitions.

The four applicants, all voters of Bukoto Central constituency, are: Margaret Nansubuga of Mmanzi village in Kyannamukaaka sub-county, Charles Samula of Kabonera A in Kabonera sub-county, Robert Kasiita of Bisanje West in Kabonera, and Barbara Kabejja of Kabonera trading centre, also in Kabonera sub-county.

Two of the applicants claim to have been present in court the day Mbabaali withdrew the petition, which had come up for hearing before Lady Justice Elizabeth Musoke. Mbabaali withdrew his petition on July 27, the same day Ssekandi threw a thanksgiving party to celebrate his appointment to the vice presidency.

“Hearing of the petition started by counsel for the petitioner (Chrysostom Katumba) making an oral application for leave to withdraw the petition and after hearing submissions by all counsels on the said oral application, Hon Lady Justice Elizabeth Musoke immediately granted the order for leave to withdraw the petition,” Margaret Nansubuga said in an affidavit supporting the application.

According to their counsel Rowland Mugisha  of Tebusweke, Mayinja, Okello and Company Advocates, the petition was withdrawn in a manner that contravenes the procedures laid down in the Parliamentary Elections Act 17/2005 and the rules pertaining to the withdrawal of an election petition.

“There was no formal application for leave to withdraw the said election petition and accompanying affidavit, as required by law,” Mugisha contends in his accompanying affidavit.

He further states that the legal requirement to post the application on the court’s notice board was omitted, as was another provision that requires the publication of the application in the Gazette.

“The Attorney General was never involved in the process of the withdrawal, as he was never served with a copy of the application for leave to withdraw the petition as required by law,” Mugisha further states.

The other legal requirement that was allegedly flouted was that the application was heard before a judge instead of a registrar, yet no report was made to the Electoral Commission stating the reasons for the withdrawal.

Mugisha further says his perusal of court records indicates that there is no evidence that Justice Musoke met any of the legal requirements for the withdrawal of election petitions before granting the order to withdraw. The applicants, therefore, want Justice Musoke’s order to be set aside and the petition be heard on its merits, since the procedural illegalities are likely to set a bad precedent that may have far-reaching effects on jurisprudence and development of democracy in the country.

They also contend that as voters in the constituency and as witnesses in the petition, they were never consulted before the petitioner withdrew the petition. The applicants also pray to court to substitute them in the place of the petitioner in case the petitioner (Jude Mbabaali) is not willing to prosecute the petition to its logical conclusion.

The EC controversially declared NRM’s Ssekandi winner of Bukoto Central parliamentary elections after polling 11,380 votes (49.5%), against DP’s Mbabaali, with 10,146 votes (44.2%). The other contender in the race was an independent candidate, Abdu Nasser Mwanje Ssenabulya, who garnered 1,424 votes (6.2%).


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