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Dismissed

By Vision Reporter

Added 6th April 2006 03:00 AM

The Supreme Court yesterday dismissed Col. Kizza Besigye’s petition challenging the re-election of President Yoweri Museveni.

The Supreme Court yesterday dismissed Col. Kizza Besigye’s petition challenging the re-election of President Yoweri Museveni.

By A. Mugisa, M. Olupot, H. Kiirya
& Hillary Nsambu

The Supreme Court yesterday dismissed Col. Kizza Besigye’s petition challenging the re-election of President Yoweri Museveni.
The court decided by a four to three majority judgement that the malpractices were not enough to affect the results of the February 23 presidential elections.
In a five to two decision, the judges also absolved Museveni of involvement in bribery and other electoral malpractices.
The judges, however, agreed that the Electoral Commission failed to comply with the provisions of law on disenfranchisement of voters, counting and tallying of the results.
The court also ruled that there was non-compliance with the Presidential Elections Act and the Electoral Commission Act, by not ensuring free and fair elections.
They said the EC failed to check bribery and intimidation in some areas of the country and that in other areas, there was multiple voting and ballot stuffing.
By a four to three majority, the court decided that it was not proved to its satisfaction that failure to comply with the law affected the results in a substantial manner.
And by a five to two majority, the judges ruled that no illegal practice or offences were proved to have been committed by Museveni personally, or his agents with his knowledge or approval.
“It is hereby ordered that this petition be dismissed. The court will make no orders on costs,” Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki, who read the summary judgement, said.
He said full judgement would be given on notice. The other judges on the coram are Arthur Oder, John Tsekooko, Alfred Karokora, Joseph Mulenga, George Kanyeihamba and Bert Katureebe.
Immediately after the ruling, Besigye declined to comment, saying he would address a press conference later in the day at the party headquarters.
He dashed to the Najjanankumbi FDC office where he held closed door meetings with the top party leaders.
The mood was sombre at the party headquarters, while at the court premises, the NRM supporters sang, danced and chanted their slogans.
Outside the court, Besigye flashed the FDC V-sign to his supporters who responded. Excited supporters of Museveni sang and flashed the thumbs-up sign.
Present at the court were NRM Vice-Chairman Moses Kigongo, ministers Amama Mbabazi, Nsaba Buturo, Hope Mwesigye, Okot Ogong and Movement MPs.
FDC party chairman Sulaiman Kiggundu, vice-presidents Salaamu Musumba and Ogenga Latigo and other party officials, MPs and supporters also attended.
EC chairman Dr. Badru Kiggundu, commissioners Tom Buruku, Joseph Biribonwa, Sisye Kiryapawo, Jenny Okello, Stephen Ongaria and the secretary, Sam Rwakoojo, attended.
Security at the court premises was tight. Kabaka Anjagala Road from its junction with Rubaga Road up to Bulange gate was sealed off to traffic.
The court was filled to capacity with some people sitting on the floor. Other people sat outside the courtroom, where they listened to the proceedings through a public address system.
The court pointed out that it was concerned with the continued involvement of security forces in the election process and massive disenfranchisement of voters by deleting them from the registers without informing them. It also expressed concern on the apparent and partial conduct by some electoral officials as well as the apparent inadequacy of voter education.
It also expressed its dissatisfaction with the failure by the Electoral Commission to avail the district registrars’ reports to court, saying they were not ready, when it was a requirement of the law.
The court also recommended that certain provisions of the electoral law be reviewed. It pointed out Section 24 (5) and 59 (6) of the Presidential Elections Act and Section 25 of the Electoral Commission Act.
“All institutions concerned should address these concerns in order to enhance democracy,” Justice Odoki said.
Besigye petitioned the Supreme Court seeking to nullify Museveni’s re-election on grounds that Museveni was not validly elected and that the EC did not declare the results in accordance with the law.
He contended that the election process right from the campaigns was marred with intimidation, violence, unfairness, was not transparent and was fraught with bribery.
Before ruling on the petition, the court first gave its reasons for rejecting an application by Besigye’s lawyers to refer to the Constitutional Court Articles 104 of the Constitution and Section 59 of the Presidential Elections Act for interpretation.
Ends

Dismissed

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