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Month March 2016

Amended Petition Challenging the Process and Outcome of Presidential Elections in Uganda held on 18 February 2016


Amended Petition Challenging the Process and Outcome of Presidential Elections in Uganda held on 18 February 2016

With changes and advances in technology, the amended petition filed on 7 March 2016 before the Supreme Court of Uganda (based on compelling the Court to audit the results from the 112 districts[1] in general and 28,010 polling stations in particular) could lead to an outcome different from the one in in 2006 and 2001 petitions, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcQtE2sQ6O0

Significantly, the amended petition before the Supreme Court relies on biometric machines, Biometric Voter Verification System, electronic results transmission and dissemination system observing that:

1. “The biometric machines working for nine hours and allocating two minutes per voter could verify approximately 270 voters per polling station yielding approximately 7,562,700 voters nationally. In effect the 10,329,131 voters the Electoral Commission declared as having voted could not have voted on polling day.” It is practically impossible for 500 voters to have cast votes between 9am-4pm in areas where one candidate was declared to have got 100 per cent as the Biometric Voter Verification System indicates the number that voted per polling station.

2. “The number of voters declared by the Electoral Commission included numbers of the pre-ticked ballot papers stuffed at various polling stations and post-ticked and stuffed in favour of …[a candidate declared to have won]”.

3. If the Electoral Commission (EC) is sure and confident that the results it announced were a true reflection of what transpired on the voting day, the amended petition challenges the EC to disclose and produce the declaration forms together with the images/clones of the Biometric Voter Verification System (BVVS) and electronic results transmission and dissemination system for purposes of adding up and tallying the number of votes cast for each candidate as recorded on the forms for ascertainment of the final result in comparison with that announced and declared by the EC.

4. “Since each voter had their finger prints recorded and names verified, and stored, its record (of the biometric machines) is relevant and necessary in determining the number of voters that voted during the election in comparison with what was declared by the Electoral Commission included numbers of the pre-ticked ballot papers at various polling stations and post”.

5. The disclosure and discovery of the data on the biometric voter verification kits for each polling station and their database on the national basis is necessary to prove that the number of voters declared by the EC was substantially or materially different from the number of voters recorded on the biometric kits.

On the basis of the foregoing, it is possible to satisfy the Court that there was non-compliance with the law and this non-compliance substantially affected the outcome of the election. In the past petitions the Court was satisfied that there was non-compliance with the law and several electoral malpractices. The only question on which judges were divided was on the effect on non-compliance on the results declared. Did the non-compliance affect the results ‘substantially’?

Modern technology comes in now to help determine the effect on non-compliance on results declared. In short, if the available technological evidence succeeds in demonstrating that the results announced/declared by the EC do not tally and were affected substantially, especially in instances where there was 100 per cent voter turnout and 100 per cent of the valid votes cast in favour of a candidate declared as a winner, history may be made not only in Uganda but also in Africa and beyond.

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MBABAZI LAWYERS OFFICES BROKEN INTO


It has been widely reported that offices of lawyers (including Lead lawyer Muhammed Mbabazi on Buganda Road and Mr Fred Muwema off Acacia Avenue in Kampala) representing Uganda’s presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi, who is challenging the process and outcome of elections in the Supreme Court, were broken into on 9 March 2016. Computers and documents were reportedly stolen.

See video – Inside the office of burgled Ugandan opposition lawyers:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-35766044

http://www.ntv.co.ug/news/crime/09/mar/2016/unknown-people-break-mbabazis-lawyers-offices-take-petition-files-11432#sthash.hXB6FmkQ.dpbs

Everyone who respects the rule of law in Uganda should be concerned. The key questions are:

1. Who was behind the break–ins into the offices of two of Amama Mbabazi’s lawyers? Who bears command responsibility for the break-ins into lawyers’ offices?

2. Where is the future of the rule of law in Uganda?

Undermining the rule of law is worrying. In 2007 the East African Court of Justice at Arusha found a violation of the rule of law in Uganda in the case of Katabazi and 21 others v Secretary General of the East African Community and the Attorney General of the Republic of Uganda, Reference No 1 of 2007, available at http://www.saflii.org/ea/cases/EACJ/2007/3.html, noting that ‘the intervention by the armed security agents of Uganda to prevent the execution of a lawful Court order violated the principle of the rule of law’. Lawyers should be supported to do their work without intimidation.

Breaks-ins into lawyers’ offices representing a petitioner in a presidential petition seriously undermines respect for the rule of law in Uganda given the role played by lawyers as officers of court in the peaceful and judicial settlement of disputes.

Letter to All Ugandan Compatriots to Join in Dismantling Museveni’s Militarism


In over 30 years in power, President Yoweri Museveni’s gratuitous use of violence, patronage and corruption, as means to privatize the state, has dealt devastating blows to Uganda’s institutions and the welfare of the great majority of people.

Unless Ugandans with the support of democratic forces and donor countries join hands in collective determination to take effective remedial action soon, it might be difficult to salvage the future of the country. Certainly, the legacies of the divide-and rule, combined with use of pervasive violence, will hover over the country like a permanent nightmare.

It is a tragic irony of history that despite his public disdain of King Leopold of Belgium and President Mobutu of the Congo, President Yoweri Museveni’s political modus operandi is not fundamentally different from those of both men. President Museveni has become as predatory as both men who ruled the Congo; as personal estates, turning the country into an inferno for her people. In a sense, the three might be regarded as kindred political comrades.

Yet the capricious political operation that has affected every sector of the country and the construction of what can now be characterized as presidential monarchy, if not fiefdom, was neither inevitable nor preordained. In fact, in the beginning, President Museveni’s rhetoric had generated much hope for Uganda.

It was after five years of guerrilla warfare that on January 25, 1986 the National Resistance Army (NRA) led by Museveni triumphantly stormed into Kampala and usurped power from the ineffectual military junta of General Tito Okello, which had itself a few months earlier overthrown the second Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) administration led by Milton Obote.

In a blaze of publicity and euphoria, the leader of NRA, Museveni, issued a serious indictment of African rulers when he declared that: “The problem of Africa in general and of Uganda in particular is not the people but leaders who want to overstay in power.” This declaration raised the hopes of people for the depersonalization of power.

If President Yoweri Museveni had walked the talk and put the laudable declaration into practice, he would have gone down in history as an exemplary Ugandan, if not African leader.

Indeed, if President Museveni had stuck to what he promised at the time he usurped power and left power after a reasonably short tenure, he would have done a great service to Uganda and Africa. To begin with, he would have set a precedent for peaceful transfer of power and in the process begun to institutionalize a new political culture.

Over time, this could have developed into institutional and structural mechanisms of checks and balance on power, which have historically served as antidotes to dictatorship.

For we must not forget that the source of dictatorship and the bane of African politics, as of politics the world over, is the concentration of power in a few hands or one person. Lord Acton captured this eternal truth of history crisply in his 1867 aphorism, when he stated that: “Power corrupts; and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

It is absolute power that has in more than 30 years corrupted President Yoweri Museveni absolutely. In the more than 30 years, in order to acquire absolute power without any accountability, he has relied upon, retailed, and promoted on a revolutionary scale, militarism. This is the value system that glorifies violence as the alpha and omega of power.

The practitioners of militarism of the period have captured their dogma in the phrase, “We fought and possess the means of destruction, and therefore we must rule.” The stalwarts of the regime drum the phrase religiously in the heads of Ugandans to justify their unlimited stay in, and exercise of, power.

It is the combination of concentration of power in President Museveni, his enduring faith in militarism, and his bigotry based on sub-ethnic chauvinism, which has become a lethal cocktail that has poisoned and disfigured the moral fabric of society.

The latest manifestation of militarist approach to politics in Uganda has been the gratuitous use of force against people perceived by the regime to disagree with President Museveni. This includes, among others, the degrading undressing in public of women members of opposition; the brutal crackdown of supporters of opposition parties before, during and after the February 2016 elections; the military siege of Dr. Kizza Besigye’s private house and his arbitrary harassment and detention without reasonable cause; and the draconian measures taken against journalists who were reporting unpalatable truths about the political situation in the country.

Sadly, the gratuitous use of violence against a cross-section of Ugandans has tended to drive moderate people into despair and has radicalized extremists into desperation. We hope that the logic of this type of militarist violence does not engender dreadful dynamics and a continuous cycle of violence and counter-violence.

Because of President Museveni’s abiding faith in militarism, Ugandans and democratic forces the world over should not be in a state of illusion that he cares much about democratic legitimacy.

As such, it can be predicted without any fear of contradiction that his gratuitous use of violence during this period of contestation for democracy in Ugandan will not be the last time he unleashes violence on ordinary Ugandans.

The gratuitous use of violence has now cast an ominous pall over Uganda. It has certainly seriously undermined not only prospects for democracy, but also the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms and human rights in the country. Far worse, however, as indicated above, it has perverted and corroded the moral and social fabric of society.

If we are to strategize effectively to bring sanity and unity to the country, we would need to acknowledge two fundamental historical facts. The first is that militarism, which has now become a cancer to the body politic of the country, is not new in Uganda’s politics. Lest we forget history, it should be remembered that it was in 1966 that the militarization of politics and the politicization of the military during the violent ouster of Sir Edward Mutesa, the Kabaka of Buganda, set into motion the chains of events that culminated in the usurpation of power by General Idi Amin on January 25, 1971; exactly 15 years to the date when the NRA under the leadership of Yoweri Museveni took power in Kampala.

In a sense, apart from the coincidence of dates when both Idi Amin and Museveni usurped power in Kampala, President Museveni’s militarist approach to politics is more or less analogous to the techniques of terror military dictator Idi Amin used in the 1970s to sustain himself in power.

In both cases, the rulers intended to ensure that they would monopolize and cling on to power for their personal benefit and for the benefit of a network of their cronies, at the expense of the country.

From a historical perspective, therefore, President Museveni is not the first person to catapult militarism to the command heights of Uganda’s politics. His innovation has been to use extensive public relations to cloth, sanitize and retail it, which has made it gain popular social currency.

The second fundamental historical fact is the lack of courage by a cross-section of Ugandans to empathize with fellow Ugandans subjected to deprivation of fundamental freedoms and human rights. We can trace this, again, to 1966. It’s true that when the military was hammering Baganda after the 1966 crisis, few Ugandans from other regions of the country spoke up eloquently against the militarist assault on Baganda. It was the military assault on Baganda and the indifference to their suffering in other parts of the country that fanned their sincere grievance into the flame of Kiganda nationalism. It was this sincere grievance that Yoweri Museveni preyed on to get support for his insurgency in Buganda.

Similarly, when Idi Amin’s forces were butchering Acholi and Langi and to some extent people from Teso in the early 1970s, the rest of the country did not empathize with them; the widespread belief was that it would not affect them.

After Idi Amin’s dictatorship was overthrown in April 1979, the victorious soldiers committed atrocities in West Nile without concerted protests from the rest of the country. It might therefore be summarized that there has been a symbiotic relationship between the cancer of militarism and the lack of courage to empathize with fellow Ugandans when they have been brutally robbed of their fundamental freedoms and human rights. Unscrupulous politicians have certainly exploited this lack of courage to take a principled stand on behalf of other Ugandans, for their parochial and selfish ends. This has fueled the vicious cycles of revenge, recrimination and disunity that have plagued Uganda since 1966.

With this historical background, how might we fashion a formula and strategy that might inspire people to effectively confront the militarist menace in Uganda? We might draw on the historical examples and struggles against similar menaces in other parts of the world.

Ugandans should learn lessons from the 1930s during the dictatorship of fascist Hitler. Then, individuals and countries did not actively mobilize and stand up against him until millions of innocent people had lost their lives. The poem by the Reverend Martin Niemoller, written in 1945, reminds and warns us of the tragic consequences of complicit silence in the face of gross human rights violation. It is worth quoting the poem in full here:

In Germany

First they came for the communist

And I didn’t speak up because I was not a communist.

Then they came for the Jews

And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists

And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics

And I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me

And by that time no one was left to speak up.

How was the grotesquely obscene holocaust of European Jews possible?

It was the lack of courage to speak up and the thunderous silence maintained by leaders of major powers, which might have emboldened Hitler to embark on the ghastly elimination of Jews.

Today, as the regime of President Yoweri continues to trample on the fundamental freedoms and rights of Ugandans – as it has for over 30 years — he and his devotees might construe any indifference and silence by donor countries in particular as endorsement of his ruthless tactics and mistreatment of citizens.

Although it is principally the duty of Ugandans to be the agents of positive change in the country, they would require the moral and practical solidarity of fair-minded people the world over.

In extending a hand of solidarity to Ugandans, the international community should be inspired by the clarion call made by the great American civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr., when on April 16, 1963 he wrote in Letter from Birmingham Jail in Alabama that: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

What is the way forward then, given the rather grave and deteriorating situation in Uganda?

On July 28, 2015, Freedom and Unity Front (FUF), based on the emphasis in its manifesto of December 2013 for an inclusive approach to politics in the country, made a proposal for a transitional National Unity Government. (NUG). The proposal by FUF was made out of abiding love for the country and her people to live in social peace and harmony.

In the proposal, we outlined what should be the nature of NUG; how it should be constituted; and, the criteria that should be used to form it.

First and foremost, the transitional government should reflect the social diversity of the country, and people selected to participate in the NUG should give undertaking that they would not be involved in partisan politics after the dissolution of NUG.

To lead the national unity government, a presidential council of four people should be selected. The four people should be selected to represent the old four regions of the country, namely: Buganda or Central Region; Eastern Region; Northern Region; and, Western Region.

Such a presidential council would encourage people to identify with the national government and it would foster a sense of belonging and unity.

What should be the main functions and mandate of a National Unity Government (NUG)?

NUG should be tasked to do the following: prepare a level playing field for free and fair democratic elections by principally forming a truly independent election commission; reform the judiciary to be able to independently administer justice through the rule of law in the country without intimidation from the executive or legislative branch; mandate a commission to craft a permanent constitution; establish a commission to recommend how best to enshrine decentralization of power in the constitution and in the political culture, as an antidote to the emergence of dictatorship in the future; and, appoint a commission to set up a framework for national peace, truth and reconciliation that would foster accountability and healing.

During the period of national unity government, focus should be on promoting national peace rather than seeking justice because whereas peace by its nature is an imperative for civilized existence, justice is a remedial virtue. As such, the question of justice should be left to a democratically-elected government to handle.

FUF recommends that the tenure of NUG should not exceed three years.

The formation of National Unity Government should, however, be preceded by a national consultative conference of all bona fide groups, including the NRA/NRM for many of its members are also victims of Museveni’s autocracy.

Seasoned and neutral diplomats from the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), the USA and the United Nations (UN) should facilitate the conference.

To allow representatives of the various organizations and groups to discuss the formation of National Unity Government freely without fear or interference, the conference should be held in a location where no individual or group can intimidate or coerce other parties; one possible venue is Chatham House, in the U.K.

In addition to the particulars in the proposal, we would like to appeal to the armed force – including the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) and the Uganda National Police — to identify with the great majority of Ugandans and embrace and discharge their national duty to defend all Ugandans.

The military in Uganda should emulate what their counterparts in Burkina Faso did in October 2014 when they forced President Blasé Compaore to resign when he attempted to destroy the constitution and extend his regime, and in the Philippines when in February 1986 the military rejected unconscionable orders to fire on civilians and joined the people power movement to oust the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

We also appeal to religious leaders in the country to fulfill their apostolic mission and serve as the voice of the oppressed. They should draw on the courage of their illustrious martyred leader, Saint Archbishop Janani Luwum who at the height of Idi Amin’s gross violations of human rights of citizens did not quiver; he spoke up, which cost him his life.

Similarly, in El Salvador, Archbishop Oscar Romero paid with his life when he fought tyranny and sided with the oppressed.

Now, with the conclusion by international observers that Uganda’s February 18, 2016 elections were characterized by, among other things, lack of transparency, widespread intimidation and harassment, social media restrictions, continuous arrests and detention of opposition leaders, and with the announcement by the Uganda Electoral Commission that President Yoweri Museveni won the fraudulent presidential election, it might be time for Ugandans and the international community to work in concert to bring about peaceful change in the country. The international and domestic observers concluded that the EC – all of whose members and chairman Badru Kiggundu were appointed by President Museveni — was not “competent” to conduct the elections.

It is apparent that President Yoweri Museveni has abused and taken for granted the 30-year grace period that the donor countries and a fraction of the Ugandan intelligentsia gave him in the hope that the weight of public power might tame and curb his propensity for violence.

The African adage that a leopard cannot change its spots might have conveyed more crisply the social truth about President Museveni than the misplaced hope and wish of the donor countries and some Ugandan intelligentsia. The fact is that President Museveni’s essential character and political modus operandi have not changed much over the past three decades.

With this knowledge, we must now harness our collective efforts gained through informed empathy to fight to defeat the militarist menace that threatens the future of the country.

By our collective efforts, we can usher in an inclusive democratic dispensation informed by respect for the rule of law and the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all Ugandans.

History counsels us that militarist violence cannot defeat a people united with a unity of purpose.

Professor Amii Omara-Otunnu

Chairman, Freedom and Unity Front (FUF)

Letter To Obama: No Business as Usual After Gen. Museveni’s Coup


Dear President Obama – No “Business As Usual” After Gen. Museveni’s Uganda Coup

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Dear President Obama,

As you know on Feb. 18 Uganda held elections that were universally condemned by credible observers including by the U.S. as flawed and having not been free, fair or credible; they were also marred by violence against opposition supporters by state security agents.

The Ugandan military has since escalated its human rights abuses by inflicting brutal repression against civilians.

The U.S., which is a major security partner of the Ugandan regime, providing arms and training for its army – in addition to $700 million in financial support — must at the very least suspend this relationship as required by the Leahy Amendment which “prohibits the U.S. Department of State and Department of Defense from providing military assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights with impunity.”

With respect to the Feb. 18 vote, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo condemned the Ugandan regimes’ vote suppression in opposition strongholds; he said the delays in delivery of election material were “inexcusable.”

Obasanjo, who led the Commonwealth Observer group concluded that the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party had abused state resources to benefit the candidacy of the incumbent Gen. Yoweri Museveni. The Commonwealth’s report also decried “inequitable media coverage and question marks over the secrecy of the ballot and the competence of the electoral commission to manage the process.”

On behalf of your administration, the State Department concluded that “reports of pre-checked ballots and vote buying, ongoing blockage of social media sites, and excessive use of force by the police, collectively undermine the integrity of the electoral process.”

Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) election monitoring team also concluded that Uganda’s Electoral Commission (EC) wasn’t “competent” or trusted and that while the “political parties were still following tallying and collecting data from the field, the police stormed FDC’s party headquarters using teargas and arrested the flag bearer Kizza Besigye and the party leadership.”

Gen. Museveni hand-picked the EC and its chairman Badru Kiggundu.

All observers condemned the regime’s blocking of all access to the social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp – on election day.

When Mr. Kiggundu declared Gen. Museveni as “winner” of the sham elections, on Feb. 20, the announcement was rejected by the major opposition candidates Dr. Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) and Amama Mbabazi the former prime minister.

Dr. Besigye’s supporters believe he was heading to victory, based on reports from polling stations and they consider him as the President-Elect.

Civil society and religious leaders also rejected the announcement by Mr. Kiggundu who in effect acts as Gen. Museveni’s personal referee.

Gen. Museveni has now responded with what amounts to a military coup d’état. He has placed Dr. Besigye and Mr. Mbabazi under house arrest and deployed security forces all over the streets of Kampala. Even journalists with independent media outlets covering the repression have been targeted, attacked with pepper spray, arrested, and assaulted while in captivity.

Up to 300 FDC party officials, including those who were involved in monitoring polling stations, have disappeared and are believed to have been abducted by government security agents.

Mr. President while the opposition party supporters have so far maintained remarkable discipline in the face of attacks and provocations by the armed forces, all hell could break loose the longer that leaders like Dr. Besigye and Mr. Mbabazi remain in detention.

Ironically the current paralysis and explosive polarization could have been avoided if Gen. Museveni had heeded the suggestion that he retire, from many prominent Ugandans, including his own former prime minister Mr. Mbabazi.

When you addressed African leaders last July at the African Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa, you also warned of the dangers presented by leaders who cling to power at all cost. Gen. Museveni has ruled Uganda since he seized power in 1986; in 2005 he arm-twisted Parliament into removing presidential term limits.

Instead of paving the way for a new crop of leadership Gen. Museveni decided to run a violent re-election campaign based on threats, repression, and attacks against suspected opposition party supporters.

In the run up to the elections the ruling National Resistance Movement’s (NRM) secretary general Ms. Justine Lumumba Kasule issued the following chilling warning to any youth that contemplated demonstrations to protest alleged election rigging: “the state will shoot you.”

Gen. Kale Kayihura, the notorious police commander, presided over the training of so-called “crime preventers,” about 200,000 pro-government militias who’ve been accused by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International of brutal attacks against opposition party supporters.

Before the election, Kayihura also declared that these pro-regime gangs should be armed with guns to “prepare for war.”

This clear incitement to violence prompted the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski on Jan. 28 to Tweet: “#Uganda head of police vague remarks on arming ‘crime preventers’ for war before election is dangerous/irresponsible.”

Gen. Museveni himself not only failed to condemn the statements by Lumumba and Kayihura — which indicates he approved or authorized them — but he also threatened that any Ugandans who continue to protest would be placed in “the deep freezer.”

This message was not lost on Ugandans who recall that this was a preferred spot for some of Idi Amin’s victims.

Mr. President it’s true that the U.S. has allowed scandalous exception to the Museveni regime. This is due to Uganda’s deployment of thousands of troops to Somalia to help battle al-Shabab, the al-Qaeda affiliated militia. Yet, this U.S. position mistakenly presumes that a democratically-elected Ugandan regime wouldn’t continue security cooperation in Somalia with the U.S. and the other AU countries now involved.

Mr. President Ugandans are paying a very high price for the exception allowed to Gen. Museveni. Suspending military cooperation would send a clear signal to the Ugandan regime that abuses won’t be tolerated and that justice must prevail.

Mr. President the U.S. can help press a resolution by additionally:

1. Making it clear the U.S. won’t recognize any “winner” of the Feb. 18 presidential election as declared by Badru Kiggundu as such a move would contradict the announcements by the Commonwealth, the EU, other election observers, and the U.S. State Department that the vote was not free, fair and credible.

2. Issuing a statement demanding the unconditional release of Dr. Besigye, Mr. Mbabazi, all political prisoners and the missing 300 FDC officials.

3. Supporting the opposition parties’ demands for an independent audit of the ballots to determine who received more votes in the Feb. 18 election before Kiggundu’s fraudulent announcement; a similar U.N.-brokered program was successful in resolving the stalemate in Afghanistan and averting bloodshed.

4. Issuing a U.S. visa ban, asset seizure and other appropriate sanctions against Gen. Kayihura, Ms. Lumumba Kasule, and other Ugandan officials who have made statements inciting violence; this should also cover any commanders issuing orders to carry out acts of violence.

5. Demanding that attacks against journalists stop immediately.

While these actions alone may not resolve the Ugandan crises, they will send the right signal to Gen. Museveni and his military commanders.

The measures will also make it clear to millions of Ugandan voters that you meant what you said, in 2009 and in 2014; that Africa needs democracy and strong institutions not “big” men.

Milton Allimadi is a UAH member based in USA
Follow Milton Allimadi on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/allimadi

Challenging a Presidential Election in Uganda


Following the declaration of the 2016 presidential election results by the Electoral Commission, http://www.ec.or.ug/, are there any real prospects of successfully challenging the election before the Supreme Court of Uganda, in particular that a candidate declared by the Electoral Commission elected as President was not validly elected?

By Article 104 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda 1995, “any aggrieved candidate may petition the Supreme Court [of Uganda] for an order that a candidate declared by the Electoral Commission elected as President was not validly elected.”

The Supreme Court is required to inquire into and determine the petition expeditiously and shall declare its finding “not later than thirty days from the date the petition is filed.”

The Court (at least in theory) may annul the election and order that a fresh election shall be held within twenty days from the date of the annulment if the following grounds are proved to the satisfaction of the Court—

1. noncompliance with the provisions of the Presidential Elections Act (chapter 142) and that the noncompliance affected the result of the election in a substantial manner;

2. that the candidate was at the time of his or her election not qualified or was disqualified for election as President;

3. that an illegal practice or any other offence under the Presidential Elections Act was committed in connection with the election by the candidate personally or with his or her knowledge and consent or approval.

Among others, Dr Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party is an “aggrieved candidate”. He indicated that he intended to petition the Supreme Court of Uganda for an order that the candidate declared by the Electoral Commission elected as President was no validly elected.

Unfortunately, armed men surrounding his residential house since 19 February 2016, without any court order, have prevented him from exercising his constitutionally guaranteed rights including freedom of movement, expression, association and access to the Supreme Court of Uganda to challenge a recent presidential election within ten days after the declaration of the election results. This is the “fundamental change” ushered in Uganda in 1986! Disrespect for constitutionalism, rule of law and human rights, https://www.hrw.org/africa/uganda.

According to retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Uganda and a former Judge of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, George Wilson Kanyeihamba, available evidence shows that the 18 February election in Uganda was rigged. He said: “With the massive disenfranchisement of voters in opposition strongholds like Kampala, Wakiso, Rukungiri and Gulu, how can that election be upheld. It was a sham,”

He further said: “We know that the judiciary isn’t independent but by filing the petition, you expose the judges because the vote rigging was glaring. No reasonable judge would uphold such an election.” See Besigye running out of time to challenge poll result, http://observer.ug/news-headlines/42797-lawyers-besigye-running-out-of-time-to-challenge-poll-result

In its Preliminary Report dated 25 February 2016, the Uganda Human Rights Commission, http://www.uhrc.ug/preliminary-report-national-elections, identified what it described as “general challenges” during the electoral process as follows:

-Late delivery of polling materials
-Poor facilitation of polling officials
-Limited voter education
-Inadequate capacity of some polling officials to handle the polling process
-Use of unreasonable and disproportionate force by some security agents that may result in loss of lives
-Unruly voters who instead of reporting the challenges they were facing at the polling stations, resorted to blockading roads, burning tyres and insulting polling officials and Observers
-Polling stations located in congested places

The European Union observers identified several other issues which undermined the principle of free and fair elections including “intimidation and harassment of opposition by police and law enforcement bodies, as well as arrests of supporters and voters were reported from more than 20 districts”, http://www.eueom.eu/files/pressreleases/english/PreliminaryStatement_20160220.pdf.

Will the Supreme Court annul the election if any aggrieved candidate submits a petition within 10 days after the declaration of the election results?

If the Court orders a fresh election to be held within twenty days from the date of annulment, will the next presidential election in April 2016 be anywhere close to being “free and fair”?

EU PRELIMINARY STATEMENT ON 2016 ‘ELECTIONS’ IN UGANDA


European Union Election Observation Mission Uganda 2016 Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council Elections

PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

Kampala, 20 February 2016

Voter enthusiasm for democratic process eclipsed by atmosphere of intimidation and ruling party control of state resources in Uganda’s third multi-party elections

Summary

Voters actively participate in campaign events and expressed a remarkable determination while waiting for long hours on the election day to cast their ballots. Furthermore, for the first time in Uganda’s political history a presidential debate with all candidates, including the incumbent, took place. However, the National Resistance Movement’s (NRM’s) domination of the political landscape distorted the fairness of the campaign and state actors were instrumental in creating an intimidating atmosphere for both voters and candidates. The incumbent had access to funding and means, including to public media that were not commensurate with those available to his competitors. The lack of transparency and independence of the Electoral Commission (EC), and its markedly late delivery of voting material on election day to several districts considered opposition strongholds – most notably in Kampala, decreased the opportunity for voters to cast their ballots. The Uganda Communication Commission blocked access to social media on election day which unreasonably constrained freedom of expression and access to information.

· Voting was conducted in a calm and peaceful environment in the vast majority of the country. However, in certain areas the voting material arrived late and the EC failed to communicate effectively the steps that would be needed to calm the growing frustration and tensions among voters deferred from voting. The EC chairman only announced the three-hour extension of voting in Kampala and Wakiso shortly before the official closing of the polling stations. Additionally, this was poorly communicated to the polling staff in affected areas. Counting was generally assessed as transparent, however one in five the numbers in the result forms did not reconcile. The tallying process was described as slow and lacking transparency.

· While the EC Chairperson was announcing the preliminary results of the presidential polls and the political parties were still following tallying and collecting data from their agents in the field, the police stormed FDC’s party headquarters using teargas and arrested the flag bearer Kizza Besigye and the party’s leadership. This action severely violates freedom of expression.

· The EC lacks independence, transparency and the trust of stakeholders. The EC narrowly interpreted its mandate by limiting it to the organisation of the technical aspects of the elections. Moreover, the EC lacked transparency in its decisions and failed to inform the voters and contestants on key elements of the electoral process in a timely and comprehensive manner.

· Vibrant campaign events attracted large crowds across the country and were generally peaceful. The candidates conducted some 900 campaign events, largely following the EC’s harmonized schedule, and made considerable efforts to reach out to the electorate.

· Intimidation and harassment of opposition by police and law enforcement bodies, as well as arrests of supporters and voters were reported from more than 20 districts. Opposition candidates’ ability to campaign freely was restricted on several instances during the campaign period. This particularly affected Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) and The Democratic Alliance (TDA)/Go Forward. In the run-up to the elections, the large scale nation-wide recruitment of Crime Preventers, acting outside a clear legal framework, was broadly perceived as adding to an intimidating pre-electoral atmosphere.

· The orchestrated use of state resources and personnel for campaign purposes was observed. Government officials took an active role in the NRM campaign, with several Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) and high-ranking security officials openly endorsing the candidacy of President Museveni and the NRM campaign. Thus candidates’ equality of opportunity was not respected.

· There are no legal measures to ensure a level playing field in the campaign. Access to funds, including those attached to the president’s office as permitted by the law, led to the disproportionate expenditure on behalf of the ruling party and incumbent. This distorted the fairness of the campaign. While legislation contains provisions on reporting and disclosure of political finance, these are neither followed by parties or candidates, nor enforced by the EC.

· A small number of outspoken commercial media offered a pluralistic discourse, with the first ever live presidential debates as its highlight. However, the overall reporting environment was conducive to self-censorship. State actors interfered with local radio stations’ programming. Reports on violations on of freedom of expression were received from more than 15 districts, including on the harassment and assault of journalists. Thus, the variety of information available across the media was constrained, limiting voters’ ability to make an informed choice.

· Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) failed to fulfil its specific duties as a public broadcaster and neglected the legally binding provision of equal access of all presidential candidates. The incumbent was granted more than 90 per cent of airtime allotted to presidential candidates within the UBC’s prime-time news programmes. The EC and the broadcasting sector’s regulatory body remained silent on this breach.

· The new voter register compiled from the National Identification Register was introduced as an effort to achieve inclusiveness and accuracy. However, establishing the cut-off date of 11 May 2015 for inclusion in the voter register disenfranchised potential voters who turned 18 after this date.

· Civil society displayed a commendable commitment to the democratic process. It proposed the ‘Citizens’ Compact’ document proposing necessary amendments for the conduct of democratic elections, inter alia independence of the electoral administration and a legal framework granting a level playing field for all contestants. The Civil Society Organizations also thoroughly scrutinized the pre-electoral environment, including candidate’s campaign expenditures and the conduct of media and deployed a large number of observers on the election day.

See preliminary findings at: http://www.eueom.eu/files/pressreleases/english/PreliminaryStatement_20160220.pdf

LET US LEAVE UGANDA AFFAIRS IN GOD’S HANDS NOW!


BY ABBEY SEMUWEMBA
UK

O Allah ! You Alone bring good things; You Alone avert evil things, and there is no might or power but in You. Please help me and the rest of Ugandans to learn to remain silent(with all the pain inside now) just as we learn to speak because silence is a great source of self-control. Help our leaders (illegitimate and legitimate) to become more interested in listening than speaking, and avoid saying things that add more salt to the injuries. Please help those with positions of power now to realise that they should not laugh or mock at those in the opposition or without power because You’re capable of taking that power away from them anytime.

Ya Allah … we all face such daily pressures to make our way in this world that sometimes we misplace our trust, hopes and fears to the people around us, like our teachers, bosses and spouses. Please allow us to trust, hope and fear no one but You. Ameen.

Ugandan Opposition: what went wrong?


Feb 26, 2016

By Swaib K Nsereko, Party spokesman, Jeema

The political guillotining of ministers and incumbent MPs illustrates the extent to which Ugandans have embraced the concept of change. There was, therefore, every reason for the opposition, which provides the alternative governance to tap into this opportunity with a better outcome than it happened.

But even keeping all factors constant, Dr Kiiza Besigye, if announced the legitimate new president tomorrow, will hardly successfully end his term peacefully. Parliament, practically, the real fulcrum of power, has once again landed in hands of the ruling NRM—with over 300 MPs of the 458 it comprises. They would certainly tame him if not control or even impeach him. His party FDC, the biggest opposition side fielded a huge MP candidature of about 260 members. By this size of candidates to gain only less than 40 (15%) successful MPs is good fodder for debate. Other parties like Jeema and CP are at the extreme end with zero percent and in between are DP and UPC.

What therefore made us lose?

In a wider perspective, something went awesome. To avoid it next time we must understand it now. It can’t be a disconnect between us and the electorates, for we are undergoing similar social challenges. It’s neither about message packaging for similar themes of poverty, service deliveries and governance recurred across the board. It was hence things alien: greed, resource constrains and to good extent impunity.

Greed inhibited us from thinking beyond the present and deprived us of good planning that leads to success. It was bad planning that led to failure. Lord mayor Erias Lukwago proves a good learner in this aspect. He won the top city position in 2011 under awkward planning and lost it in a blink of an eye. It’s unlikely to easily happen this time. He has the city authority ‘parliament’ under his embrace—with dominant opposition leaning councilors.

If we contemplated the future, we would circumvent the resource huddle—by collectively as opposition mobilizing substantial financial support that nearly came in before the untimely ‘death’ of TDA. We would have our primaries dominate the countryside political terrain as or even better than NRM did. Our failure of this offered NRM a lee-way—a process in which our own supporters picked interest and participated. If NRM has mastered the application of money as a political tool, its best practiced during its primaries. During then, there are no legal restrictions as in national campaigns. In the case of Busiro North where I run as MP for Jeema for example, the eventual ‘winner’ had splashed money during primaries in all corners of the constituency. It did not require him either any leadership experience or a single credential to prove his ability. It was money. Among the seven candidates in the race he and the FDC one were actually the only novices.

What were voters’ benchmarks for change?

That they wanted change at any cost—did not mean any one available. But the tragedy of it is that they lacked awareness of the role of the office to which a candidate would be voted. That‘s why our good message packing was wasted. They would patiently listen and actually appreciate the oratory. At end, they demanded for ‘water or soda’ before they hand you a whole five year job!

Some voters up to now construe leadership the Luganda proverb way: akuwa obukulu aba akuwadde kulya—implying governance is about private gain for leaders. Before therefore, they would hand you this privilege of kulya, you must have made them kulya also. That was their benchmark. It is how those with loads of sacks of money made their way through. The money splash practice was, with impunity extended in the national election proper despite being an irregularity. And this largely explains the huge new NRM entrants into the 10th parliament.

Action

As opposition we must prepare for opportunities—such as the current positive attitude for change. We can only tap into this by thinking beyond today; by avoiding greed about individual remittances of those elected for their parties. We must focus on the real center of power—the 11th parliament.

But for the civil society movement, there is a critical role to conduct in next five years: Cause massive awareness of the role of particular office bearers. Make people appreciate to demand services not favors of those voted into public offices. They are not for worship as ‘honorable, counselor, his excellence.’ These titles are actually misleading. They make public servants assume the opposite role of idols to be fed —by way of extorting public funds. NGOs must initiate the process of making office bearers feel the due diligence of being people’s servants. Propose to deal away with useless titles.

A FEW THINGS TO REMEMBER IN CASE YOU ARE ARRESTED


1. In case you, or your loved one is questioned, arrested or detained by the Police, do not fight, argue or engage in heated verbal exchanges. Act as reasonably polite as possible, proceed to find out the reason for the arrest and then proceed to cooperate as asked. This might go a long way in resolving the issue.

2. During the arrest or confrontation, do not resist, this will simply heat up the situation and might lead to additional charges being given to you, which powers are given to the Police by law. It might also give the Police an excuse to use excessive force.

3. Before you are put in the cell, ask to communicate to a relative or loved one by phone or SMS, and in that communication, give them your location, and how you can be contacted.

4. When at the Police Post/ Station, then ask to speak to the Officer in Charge (O.C) of that Police station and request for Police Bond if the matter is for further investigation.

5. In case you then feel the arrest was unlawful, or your rights were abused during the arrest, there are a number of legal means you can take to seek compensation or redress e.g by suing those who arrested you.

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Advice from barefootlaw.org.

2016 ELECTIONS:AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC STATEMENT


AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC STATEMENT

Date: 26 February 2016

Index: AFR 59/3537/2016

Uganda: Raids, arrests stifling political opposition leader’s ability to legally challenge election results

Restrictions by the Ugandan government on freedoms of expression, association, peaceful assembly and movement targeting political opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), are stifling the party’s ability to legally challenge results from the country’s recent general elections.

Full statement of 4 pages is available in PDF at: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/afr59/3537/2016/en/

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