• Wed Jan 31 2007
  • Court gives final verdict on 2006 polls

FINALLY, the Supreme Court released the full judgment of the 2006 presidential elections yesterday. Opposition leader Kizza Besigye had petitioned the Supreme Court challenging the re-election of President Yoweri Museveni.
Vision Reporter
Journalist @ New vision
FINALLY, the Supreme Court released the full judgment of the 2006 presidential elections yesterday. Opposition leader Kizza Besigye had petitioned the Supreme Court challenging the re-election of President Yoweri Museveni.
By Anne Mugisa
and Charles Ariko


FINALLY, the Supreme Court released the full judgment of the 2006 presidential elections yesterday. Opposition leader Kizza Besigye had petitioned the Supreme Court challenging the re-election of President Yoweri Museveni.

Though the verdict, which ruled 4 to 3 that malpractices did not affect the results, came out on April 6, details on how the different judges voted had not been made public.

All seven judges, including the late Justice Arthur Oder, agreed on two counts: that the Electoral Commission failed to comply with the law on disenfranchisement of voters, counting and tallying of the results, and that the elections were not free and fair.

But they were divided on three other counts. By a four-to-three majority, the court decided that the malpractices were not enough to affect the results, and that the elections should not be annulled.

Judges who felt that the irregularities did not justify overturning the elections were Benjamin Odoki, Alfred Karokora, Joseph Mulenga and Bart Katureebe. Those who believed they were grave enough to warrant a re-run were the late Arthur Oder, Wilson Tsekooko and George Kanyeihamba.

By a five-to-two majority, the court ruled that no illegal practices or offences were proved to have been committed by President Museveni, or by his agents with his knowledge or approval. Those who ruled Museveni guilty of electoral malpractices were Tsekooko and Oder.

Only the judgments of Tsekooko, Kanyeihamba and Katureebe could be secured yesterday. Kanyeihamba, who wanted a re-run, was the only one who read out his ruling in the Supreme Court yesterday.

“The illegalities, malpractices and irregularities reported and proved to the unanimous satisfaction of this court dug too deep in the foundations and legitimacy of the presidential elections of 2006 and leave no shadow of doubt that that election was fatally flawed and a fresh one ought to be ordered and held,” he read.

Tsekooko, who also wanted the polls annulled, argued that NRM members and security agents harassed and intimidated people in many districts. He also ruled that there was evidence of ballot stuffing, multiple voting and bribery.

“Surely these must affect the results in a substantial manner… The provision (that the effect should be substantial) appears to me to imply a license to candidates to cheat or flout the law but do it in such way that the cheating or flouting ought not to be so much as to amount to creating a substantial effect on the election result. The cheating must be such as can be tolerated by the courts!”

Katureebe found that the flaws were not grave enough to justify a re-run. “In most areas of the country and in absence of evidence to the contrary the election appears to have been conducted smoothly and substantially in accordance with the law,” he said.

“A decision like annulling a presidential election must be based on hard concrete evidence. The court must be satisfied, and as already observed, one cannot be satisfied if one still entertains doubt.”

Kanyeihamba lashed out at his colleagues for the delay in writing their judgments, saying it was democratically unacceptable. He said he supplied his judgment last May, while they only circulated theirs in the second week of January. Oder, who died on June 26, 2006, never left behind a detailed ruling.

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