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Kanyeihamba: Uganda Court messed up ‘06 petition

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by ByaseL, Jun 1, 2009.

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    ByaseL JF-Expert Member

    Jun 1, 2009
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    Emmanuel Gyezaho & Nelson Wesonga Kampala

    The Supreme Court mishandled Dr Kizza Besigye’s 2006 election petition challenging the re-election of President Yoweri Museveni, Justice George Wilson Kanyeihamba said on Saturday.

    In an exclusive interview with Daily Monitor, Justice Kanyeihamba, one of the judges on the seven-member panel, said his colleagues erred in upholding Mr Museveni’s election, even when they conceded that there were electoral irregularities like bribery and vote theft.

    This, he said, was illogical because once the Constitution was reported and proven violated, that rendered the election flawed and should have been nullified and repeated. “We were seven and the seven of us were unanimous; the election was not free or fair, or at least largely not free or fair; the Constitution was violated in a number of respects; the Presidential Elections Act, the Parliamentary Elections Act, the Electoral Commissions Act were all violated or ignored in one way or the other,” he said.

    “More important to that, our law and Constitution doesn’t say that if you break the Constitution in one area and it is not the whole Constitution, then that is okay. Once you say it has been violated then you are liable. Nobody measures how much you have violated it. For me, once you say that the system of elections in this country violated the Constitution and other laws, then it is flawed,” Justice Kanyeihamba said in a three-hour interview.

    The court, on a 4:3 verdict, dismissed Dr Besigye’s petition, saying the irregularities did not substantially affect the final outcome. Justice Kanyeihamba, a former Attorney General in Mr Museveni’s government, was one of the three judges that ruled in favour of Dr Besigye. Justice Kanyeihamba also faulted the conduct of the petition criticising the decision by the court to give detailed ruling more than eight months after the summary judgment was read on April 6, 2006.

    Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki on April 6, 2006 delivered the court’s summary ruling that on a 4:3 verdict dismissed Dr Besigye’s petition but roundly concurred that the February 23 poll was not free and fair because of massive irregularities.

    Justices William Tsekooko, Alfred Karokora, Joseph Mulenga, George Kanyeihamba, Bart Katureebe and the late Arthur Oder were the other members of the panel.

    In the April 6 2006 summary verdict Justice Odoki neither gave detailed reasons for the court’s ruling nor disclosed which judge ruled for or against the petition. The details were delivered almost 10 months later on January 31, 2007, for the first time for the public to know that Justices Odoki, Karokora, Mulenga and Katureebe dismissed the petition.

    Justices Kenyeihamba, Tsekooko and the Oder cancelled the election, but their orders were overpowered by the majority position. President Museveni was declared winner of the February 23, 2006 election with 59 per cent of the vote against Dr Besigye’s 37 per cent. DP’s John Ssebaana Kizito received 1.58 per cent of the vote, while UPC’s Miria Obote and independent Abed Bwanika scored below 1 per cent each. Dr Besigye, however, rejected the results and sought legal redress.

    In their ruling, all the judges unanimously ruled the poll was not held in compliance with the principles of the Constitution and other relevant laws.
    However, the court’s final decision to uphold the elections led to the petitioner and some legal commentators wondering as why the judges could uphold an election which they all concurred had not been held in accordance with the law.
    It’s a question that Justice Kanyeihamba’s answer in the Saturday interview raises fresh questions for his colleagues.

    “I think that once we all discovered that the election was on the whole not free or fair.... in my view there is not any other conclusion except to say that this election was defective therefore we must hold a new one,” Justice Kanyeihamba said.