Uganda’s constitutional court yesterday approved removing the presidential age limit of 75 years, a ruling that would potentially allow President Yoweri Museveni to extend his three-decade rule. It endorsed parliament’s decision to scrap the cap in December that drew accusations from opposition parties that the 73-year-old Museveni wanted to be president for life and brought protesters onto the streets. “The removal of age limit may encourage an incumbent to wish to keep himself in office perpetually but the citizens still retain the power to either return the same president or elect a different one,” said Elizabeth Musoke, one of three judges who endorsed the amendment. One of the five judges said no, another had yet to deliver his verdict.
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of Uganda.
Debate on age limits and term length for the president of Uganda came to a sudden halt Tuesday when a lawmaker reported seeing soldiers on the premises. The allegation led to a scuffle between legislators and parliamentary police. The legislature was already on edge because of the proposals being discussed. Parliament is debating a bill that would abolish the age limit for 75 presidential candidates, a move that would enable longtime President Yoweri Museveni to run for another term in the 2021 election. Opposition lawmakers and some members of the ruling party object to the bill, and debate that began Monday has been tumultuous. On Monday, shouting and chair-throwing forced Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to suspend six members of parliament.
In his inaugural speech, after being sworn in as the new Electoral Commission chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama made a passionate plea to Ugandans especially critics to give him time to deliver on his mandate. In making the plea, Justice Byabakama was well aware of the documented lack of confidence in the electoral body and did not shy away from taking note of this, before stating his credentials of being “independent”. “I am coming from a background were being independent is a prerequisite of exercise of the judicial power. Fortunately or unfortunately, I am not about to throw off that gown and leave it in court,” he said. Unfortunately for him, Justice Byabakama has in the past been found to have thrown off that “gown” particularly during his time at the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Seven out of 10 Members of Parliament are opposed to the lifting of the Presidential age limit from the Constitution, according to a new study. This is entailed in a new survey released by the Citizen’s Coalition for Electoral Democracy on Uganda (CCEDU) on Parliamentary Attitudes to lifting Presidential age limit conducted between September 16 and October 7, where 185 were interviewed. The MPs in the report also supported the restructuring of the Independent Electoral Commission (EC), arguing that this will guarantee the public free and fair elections in future.
Uganda’s Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to the presidential election held in February, issuing a ruling on Thursday that secured President Yoweri Museveni a mandate for another five-year term. He has been in office since 1986. The vote last month, seen as a pivotal moment in Uganda’s democracy as the last time Mr. Museveni will be legally allowed to appear on a presidential ballot, was marred with irregularities and widespread criticism. The legal challenge by the third-place finisher, Amama Mbabazi, argued that Mr. Museveni was not validly elected and that Uganda’s electoral commission had disseminated false results, among other allegations. It requested a recount in more than 40 districts.
Ugandan opposition parties are faced with a familiar conundrum—fairly sure that the election they just lost was rigged, but unsure how to prove it. There is evidence that President Yoweri Museveni’s main challenger, Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), made significant gains in many parts of the country, especially urban areas. It is also clear that intimidation and repression were widespread, including the repeated detention of Besigye in the weeks of and after polling day. But neither domestic courts nor international election monitors are likely to declare an election unfree or unfair on the basis of this kind of background manipulation, although both the European Union and U.S. State Department found the election process to be marked by a lack of transparency and worrying irregularities. At the end of the day, it is only hard evidence of ballot box stuffing or faulty vote tallying that is likely to sway them. So, do the results, published by the Electoral Commission (EC) in almost complete form towards the end of February, point to a rigged election? And if so, how was it done?
In closing arguments yesterday in the Supreme court, lawyers for Amama Mbabazi, the main challenger to President Museveni’s re-election victory, worked harder than ever to prove the charges of voter bribery, intimidation and disenfranchisement of voters against the president. But without supporting evidence, the lawyers came for tough questioning from Chief Justice Katureebe. They also couldn’t prove that discarding the old voters’ register by the Electoral Commission affected the outcome of the presidential and parliamentary elections. The Mbabazi lawyers however, did a good job poking holes into the Electoral Commission’s handling of polling on election day and the final declaration of results. In his robust presentation, Mbabazi’s lead counsel, Mohmed Mbabazi, told court that President Museveni’s victory should be nullified because the Electoral Commission did not rely on hard copies of the declaration of results forms and tally sheets from districts when declaring the winner.
Chief Justice Bart Katureebe must have felt a sense that he had been here before as he led eight justices of the Supreme Court in Kampala on March 7 to the pre-hearing conference of a petition against the Feb. 18 presidential election. In the petition,one of the losers; former presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi is seeking nullification of the incumbent, President Yoweri Museveni’s election on 43 grounds which include non-compliance with the law, vote stealing, and intimidation of voters and agents by security forces. Justice Katureebe is the only one of the nine justices hearing the petition to have been in a similar position before. In 2006, he was on a panel that heard another petition brought before the Supreme Court against the election of the same respondents, including President Yoweri Museveni, the Attorney General, and the Electoral Commission.
In the Supreme court yesterday, the nine justices rejected a request for a presidential vote recount by lawyers representing Amama Mbabazi in the petition challenging the results of the February 18 presidential election. The request, which can still be entertained in the course of the main hearing, sought to compel the Electoral Commission to recount votes in 45 districts, before the petition is heard. “The law doesn’t give vote recount as a preliminary relief…” said Bart Katureebe, the chief justice and head of the nine-panel judge.
Suspected burglars broke into the offices of two of Amama Mbabazi’s lawyers on Tuesday night and reportedly made off with computers and case files. Though the lawyers did not report the cases to the Uganda Police Force, the police have now gone to the offices of the two lawyers, Fred Muwema and Muhammed Mbabazi, to carry out investigations. “I think the police should come to tell us that they [the police allegedly] broke in because they were here,” said counsel Mbabazi during a televised interview. He ruled out going to the police to report the incident. “The police were seen to have come here. They came, they [allegedly] broke [in and] they took away whatever they took. So I report to whom? They should be the ones to come and tell me ‘we came in, we didn’t find you then we broke in’.”
Independent presidential candidate Mr Amama Mbabazi has finally filed his petition before the Supreme Court, challenging president Yoweri Museveni’s victory in the February 18 elections. Journalists who had been waiting to cover the petition in the Kampala based court since morning breathed a sigh of relief when Mr Mbabazi’s lawyers arrived at the court, from downtown Kampala, at 5:07pm. The court’s registrar Tom Chemtai received the lawyers and took them through the requirements for a petition. He spent four minutes on this. Among other requirements, the lawyers had to pay Shs400, 000 to file the petition and Shs1 million, which serves a security for costs in case the petition fails, which they did.
One of the candidates who sought to end Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s thirty years in power in last month’s presidential vote filed a petition on Tuesday seeking to nullify Museveni’s victory due to widespread irregularities. Museveni, 71, who came to power in 1986 and is one of Africa’s longest-serving rulers, won the Feb. 18 vote with 60 percent of the votes. Former prime minister Amama Mbabazi, Museveni’s ally-turned-challenger, won less than two percent of the vote, but has accused Uganda’s security services of intimidating candidates and has questioned how the votes were tallied. Opposition candidate Kizza Besigye, who won 35 percent of the vote but has dismissed the tally as fraudulent, missed Tuesday’s deadline, with officials from his party saying Besigye’s repeated detentions had made it impossible to mount a challenge.
Opposition stalwart Kizza Besigye has said that the February 18 general election was the worst in Uganda’s history. But how was the election rigged? Collating anecdotal evidence, SADAB KITATTA KAAYA attempts to explain how the alleged rigging happened. When the presidential and parliamentary elections ended on February 18, a fierce public debate over alleged vote rigging began and hasn’t relented since. The opposition set the tone and the European Union Election Observer Mission (EU EOM) offered the much-needed supporting arguments in its preliminary assessment of the entire electoral process.
The electoral commission of Uganda is prepared to meet the legal challenges opposition presidential and parliamentary candidates plan to launch this week following the outcome of the February 18 general election, says Jotham Taremwa, spokesman for the electoral commission. Main opposition leader of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Kizza Besigye and independent candidate Patrick Amama Mbabazi dispute the results of the poll. They have signaled they would be going to court, citing voter irregularities and rigging they said led to incumbent President Yoweri Museveni’s victory. Uganda’s electoral law says challenges can be filed up to 10 days after results are announced.
A European Union mission urged Uganda on Thursday to release detailed results from last week’s presidential election, which extended President Yoweri Museveni’s 30-year rule but which the opposition has called fraudulent. Uganda’s Electoral Commission declared Museveni, 71 and in power since 1986, the winner of the Feb. 18 vote with about 60 percent of the vote. The EU’s Election Observation Mission statement was released soon after an aide to Kizza Besigye, the main challenger, said Besigye had been arrested for the sixth time in about a week. Besigye, who challenged Museveni in three previous elections, was also blocked from leaving his house on Wednesday, when local elections were held across Uganda. Human rights groups say they have been blocked from meeting with him.
Uganda’s main opposition party says it’s working hard to gather evidence to legally challenge the outcome of the February 18 general election. Uganda’s electoral law says challenges can be filed up to 10 days after results are announced. Mugisha Muntu, chairman of the Forum for Democratic Change, said the party was doing everything possible to meet the deadline, despite what he said had been continuous harassment and intimidation by state security operatives. Muntu noted that the intimidation followed the frequent arrests and subsequent release of Kizza Besigye, the FDC presidential candidate. “We started gathering evidence on Saturday, right after we found out that there were huge discrepancies between what was being announced and what we’ve been gathering from our own polling stations,” he said. Since then, he added, “our presidential candidate … has been taken to the police cells several times.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday backed concerns of international observers about shortcomings and irregularities in Uganda’s elections and urged all parties to settle any disputes peacefully. Neutral observers have criticized the government for using security forces against opposition candidates and supporters, and tensions rose Monday when police arrested President Yoweri Museveni’s main challenger, Kizza Besigye. The electoral commission announced Saturday that Museveni won the vote with more than 60 percent of counted ballots, while Besigye got 35 percent. Museveni needed 50 percent plus one vote to avoid a runoff election. The 71-year-old Museveni, a key U.S. ally on security matters, seized power in 1986 and has led Uganda for 30 years.
Police arrested Uganda’s main opposition leader, Kizza Besigye, for the fourth time in eight days on Monday, after an election that the United States and European Union have criticised and the opposition reject as fraudulent. Police also stormed Besigye’s Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party headquarters and arrested eight people, one member said, two days after President Yoweri Museveni, 71 and in power for 30 years, was declared the winner of the Feb. 18 vote. The EU observer mission said the vote had been conducted in an “intimidating” atmosphere and United States has voiced concerns about the frequent arrests of Besigye. Police said they detained Besigye as he was preparing to lead supporters to the Electoral Commission headquarters in the capital Kampala to collect the official results, and that he had not obtained government consent. “We have arrested people who are planning to cause violence in Kampala city centre,” police spokesman, Patrick Onyango, said.
The United States has criticized the handling of Uganda’s disputed presidential election and raised concerns about the house arrest of an opposition leader who failed to end President Yoweri Museveni’s 30-year rule. Museveni, one of Africa’s longest serving leaders and a U.S. ally, was declared winner on Saturday but opponents rejected the outcome of the election. European Union and Commonwealth observers have also criticized the handling of Thursday’s poll. Main opposition candidate Kizza Besigye was arrested three times this week and alleges the police have put him under house arrest and blocked his electronic communication. Besigye has described the election as a sham and another challenger, Amama Mbabazi, said the poll was “fundamentally flawed”.