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Besigye Files Petition

By Vision Reporter

Added 23rd March 2001 03:00 AM

COL Kizza Besigye yesterday filed a petition in the Supreme Court, challenging the March 12 elections. He wants the poll nullified and President Museveni's victory declared invalid. The hearing is likely to commence on April 4.

COL Kizza Besigye yesterday filed a petition in the Supreme Court, challenging the March 12 elections. He wants the poll nullified and President Museveni's victory declared invalid. The hearing is likely to commence on April 4.

By Hamis Kaheru and Juliet Nankinga COL Kizza Besigye yesterday filed a petition in the Supreme Court, challenging the March 12 elections. He wants the poll nullified and President Museveni's victory declared invalid. The hearing is likely to commence on April 4. Besigye's lawyer Joseph Balikuddembe arrived at the court in Mengo at 3.35pm to a thunderous welcome from a crowd of Besigye supporters. The supporters, some of who had waited in the court gardens from 10.00am, cheered and made Besigye's two-finger campaign symbol. "We would not be here if we did not think we had a strong case. We would not have attempted because this is not an ordinary case," Balikuddembe told journalists at court. He was accompanied by Besigye's task force officials, Louis Otika, James Musinguzi, James Opoka and Prof. Kanyerezi. The case, which was registered in the Supreme Court as Presidential Election Petition No. 1 of 2001, has Besigye as the petitioner and the two respondents are Kaguta Museveni Yoweri and the Electoral Commission. Supreme Court Registrar Masalu Musene said the respondents must file their reply to the petition by Friday, March 30. The law says the court must make a ruling within 30 days of the filing. This means the case must be disposed of by April 22. Musene said the registry would remain open on weekends and public holidays to allow filing of documents, because the law requires Balikuddembe to serve the respondents within three days from yesterday. He said Museveni would be required to get a private lawyer because he has been sued in his private capacity as a former candidate and president-elect. Musene said, however, that the Attorney General, one of the respondents, would be served by court as a legal representative for the Government. The team unloaded at least 22 big booklets, each with over 400 pages, from the two vehicles, which were guarded by armed policemen. The booklets contain the petition, grounds and affidavits sworn in by witnesses. Balikuddembe said he had at least 120 affidavits from all over the country. "We may have over 200 affidavits when all have come in," he said. As the case was still being recorded, Besigye's supporters arrested two armed men who they accused of spying for Museveni. They identified themselves as intelligence officers. They were handed over to the Police. The petition lists over 30 grounds on which Besigye based his petition. These include creation of new polling stations only 48 days to polling day, inflating of voters' register and failure to clean it and display it for the required time, voting before official time and voting beyond designated time and chasing away of Besigye's agents from polling stations. Other grounds are use of ballot boxes already stuffed with ballot papers, multiple voting, underage voters, allowing people to vote without voters' cards, allowing armed security agents at polling stations and counting and tallying in forced absence of Besigye agents. Besigye also complains of abduction and arrest of his supporters and agents, use of ballot papers ticked in Museveni's favour, deployment of military and para-military personnel who intimidated voters and allegations by Museveni that Besigye was a victim of AIDS, contrary to section 65 of the elections Act. It said Museveni had no reasonable grounds to believe that Besigye had AIDS and that the false statement was aimed at promoting candidate Museveni. "(As a result) voters were scared of voting for him who by necessary implication was destined to fail to carry out the functions of the demanding office of President and to serve out the statutory term." Newspaper cuttings of the AIDS story and other stories of the alleged irregularities were attached to the petition. Balikuddembe paid sh400,000 as filing fees and sh1m security for costs. Besigye was the runner-up in the race which Museveni won with 69.3%. Besigye garnered 27.8%. Ends

Besigye Files Petition

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