Friday, 1 April 2016

JUDGMENT: The Uganda Elections Petition No 1 of 2016

Chief Justice Bart Katureebe


Having made due inquiry into the petition and on the basis of our findings set out in the judgment:  
1) We hereby declare that the 1st respondent was validly elected as President in accordance with Article 104 of the Constitution and section 59 of the Presidential Elections Act. 
2) Accordingly, this petition is dismissed with no order as to costs. 

Before we take leave of this matter, we would like to point out a number of areas of concern: 
Some of the areas that seem to come up at every Presidential election include: 
(i) An incumbent’s use of his position to the disadvantage of other candidates 
(ii) Use of state resources
(iii) Unequal use of state owned media 
(iv) Late enactment of relevant legislation etc 

We must also note that in the past two Presidential Petitions, this Court made some important observations and recommendations with regard to the need for legal reform in the area of elections generally and Presidential elections in particular. Many of these calls have remained unanswered by the Executive and the Legislature.

LIVE twitter feed during the Election Petition

Lawyers meet during one of the sessions

We have looked at some of the election Observer Reports. Although the Reports point to several instances where the Observers found irregularities and malpractices, the main thrust of these Reports must be seen to be directed at the need for structural and legal reforms that would create a more conducive atmosphere that would produce genuinely free and fair elections. 

The Citizens Election Observers Net-work – Uganda (CEON -U) makes this very important Observation: 

“Uganda’s legal framework limits the foundation for conducting credible elections. These limitations prompted civil society to produce the Citizens’ Compact on Free and Fair Elections, which includes recommendations for legal reform: overhauling the Electoral Commission to ensure independence and impartiality; reforming the demarcation of electoral boundaries; ensuring recruitment of Polling officials is done in a transparently, competitively and based on merit; and the establishment of an independent judiciary to adjudicate on electoral disputes impartially. These recommendations were not taken up for the 2016 elections”. 

At the hearing of this Petition, we allowed, as amici curiae, a group of prominent Constitutional Scholars from Makerere University. They have given us a brief on issues pertaining to the holding of free and fair elections in Uganda. Suffice to say at this point that it is high time that the Executive and the Legislature started seriously to think about the crucial need to address legal reforms in our electoral laws. 

We shall consider these proposals in deeper detail when we give our full opinion. 


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