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Court dismisses Kabuleta 'scientific' election petition

By Michael Odeng and Barbra Kabahumuza

Added 18th August 2020 09:25 PM

“Unless restrained by the court, there is an imminent threat of the EC infringing on citizens’ rights to participate in public affairs through freedom of expression of their ideas,” Kabuleta contended.

Court dismisses Kabuleta 'scientific' election petition

Pastor Joseph Kabuleta. Photo/File

“Unless restrained by the court, there is an imminent threat of the EC infringing on citizens’ rights to participate in public affairs through freedom of expression of their ideas,” Kabuleta contended.

Court has dismissed with costs a petition where Pastor Joseph Kabuleta sought to block Electoral Commission's (EC) "scientific" election campaigns for the 2021 polls.

In June, Kabuleta and Dr Emmanuel Diini Kisembo petitioned the Civil Division of the High Court, seeking to block the elections, alleging illegalities.

The two filed the suit in court after EC announced that there would be no campaign rallies and that all candidates, in the forthcoming polls, would canvass for votes through the media, in what it termed "scientific general elections".

According to the EC chairperson, Simon Byabakama, the ban on rallies is informed by the existing measures against gatherings to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The duo wanted the court to quash EC guidelines, arguing that it infringes on the right to transparent, fair and free elections.

They also contended that the guidelines interfere with the freedom and independence of the aspiring candidates to carry out public campaign meetings as provided for under the Parliamentary Elections Act, 2005.

"Unless restrained by the court, there is an imminent threat of the EC infringing on citizens' rights to participate in public affairs through freedom of expression of their ideas," Kabuleta contended.

The petitioners also wanted the court to direct the EC to carry out nationwide consultations with key stakeholders before any fresh guidelines for the 2020/2021 general elections are issued.

JUDGEMENT

Justice Esta Nambayo, however, dismissed the case, saying it would be improper for court to make declarations on guidelines, which are not in existence.

"There were no guidelines in place when the EC issued the press statement. The guidelines were to be issued in due course after the commission had engaged the stakeholders," she noted. The judge also declined a request by the applicant's lawyers to refer the matter to Constitutional Court for interpretation.

Lawyers Daniel Walyemera and Abbasi Bukenya represent the applicants while Counsel Kandeebe Ntambirweki, represents the EC. "I find it not proper to refer this matter to the Constitutional Court for interpretation as there is nothing to interpret.

The prayer for reference of this matter to the Constitutional Court for interpretation is hereby declined," she ruled.

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