The Supreme Court Justices who are presiding over the matter
The three respondents in the case where former Presidential Candidate Robert Kyagulanyi sued them challenging the outcome of the January 14 polls have supported the decision to withdraw his election petition.
The three namely; President Yoweri Museveni who won with 58 per cent against Kyagulanyi’s 35 per cent votes, Electoral Commission and the Attorney General say it is okay for him to withdraw the Petition. However, the trio do not agree with the petitioner on the reasons he gave for the withdrawal.
When Kyagulanyi filed an application seeking to be permitted to withdraw his petition he presented six reasons including abduction, harassment, intimidation and torture of his witnesses by state security operatives under the command of Museveni and the Attorney General.
The Court heard also that the organs of the state like the Uganda Police Force and National Identification of Registrations of Persons Authority -NIRA, were being used by the respondents to investigate and infringe on Kyagulanyi’s privacy and that of his witnesses.
Among other reasons, Kyagulanyi was also not happy with the Supreme Court’s decisions to dismiss two of his applications one seeking to amend his petition and another seeking to file additional evidence to overturn Museveni’s victory. However, in his response to the application, Museveni the first respondent has supported Kyagulanyi’s decision but doesn’t agree with the reasons he gave.
Museveni’s response is contained in an affidavit of Oscar Kihika the Director Legal Affairs of National Resistance Movement which is the party that sponsored him and is in charge of coordinating his defence for this particular petition.
Kihika says that Kyagulanyi’s affidavit alleging abduction of his witness is a false claim which is irrelevant to the current application as the evidence to be relied upon in the petition was already before the court at the time of seeking withdraw. He argues that Kyagulanyi also submitted forged evidence in affidavits that had not been signed by some of the people he referred to as his witnesses and there is proof from forensic examiners to that effect.
According to Kihika, the forensic findings indicating forgery of signatures on the affidavits submitted by Kyagulanyi, have not been challenged or contradicted by him or his lawyers. Kihika also says that evidence adduced indicates that Kyagulanyi’s allegations in the application for withdrawal and during the proceedings have been false, dishonest and insincere.
Kihika gives an example of when Kyagulanyi stated that his lawyers had been denied access to him. To prove that this was a lie, Museveni relies on the evidence by the Deputy Attorney General who attaches a register book showing that Kyagulanyi met his lawyers as early as January 21,2021.
Museveni also mentions the February 17 2021 incident when Kyagulanyi and his lawyers reportedly committed perjury when they said on oath that an additional 200 affidavits were in court three days before and that it is the court that had declined to receive them.
“I know that the applicant, his party officials and some of his advocates have before and during these proceedings subjected the court to insult and public ridicule in the media “, adds Museveni’s response.
The lengthy response also labours to show that Kyagulanyi conducted himself in total lack of decorum and with contempt of court when he participated in an interview with international media on February 23 2021. In the said Interview, it is alleged that Kyagulanyi said his motive of going to court was to expose the lack of independence and bias of the court, and that he was taking the matter to the court of public opinion.
Records also show that on a number of occasions Kyagulanyi told the media that his decision to withdraw was because of bias from three Justices including Alfonse Owiny-Dollo the Chief Justice, Mike Chibita and Ezekiel Muhanguzi. But according to Kihika, Kyagulanyi still didn’t make any formal application for recusal.
The Electoral Commission through an affidavit of Stephen Tashobya who is a Commissioner at the Electoral Commission equally okays the withdraw of the petition and states similar reasons like for the incumbent President.
On his part, the Attorney General through an affidavit by the Deputy Attorney General and the Minister of State for Justice and Constitutional Affairs Jackson Kafuuzi says that when Kyagulanyi got all the difficulties he alleges such as witnesses being abducted or arrested, he didn’t reach out to the government to seek any assistance to have them resolved.
Kafuuzi adds that they went to NIRA and police to verify the affidavits and the authenticity of signatures that had been supplied by Kyagulanyi as evidence and findings from a handwriting expert indicated that they had been forged.
“… I know that the applicant was given an opportunity to be heard and findings were made by the court and he cannot allege that he has been denied substantive justice on the grounds that the rulings were not in his favor, “ adds the Attorney General.
Further, the government alleges that by their conduct, Kyagulanyi and his lawyers have been contemptuous and not following the timelines given to them. But they have no objection to the withdrawal of the petition.
To set the record straight, the three respondents state that their decision to support the withdrawal of the petition has not been influenced by any collusion or corrupt bargain with Kyagulanyi.
The three respondents however are all silent on the issue of costs. But Museveni’s lawyers led by Usama Ssebuwufu have told journalists that they have left the court to decide on the issue of costs.
Kyagulanyi first went to the Supreme Court seeking to overturn the election of Museveni in the recent concluded elections on grounds that they had been marred with violence, intimidation, arrests and bribery among others.