By Sania Babirye
Hearing of an application filed by Celebrated law professor Fredrick Ssempebwa in which he petitioned the Supreme Court seeking orders to declare the Attorney General William Byaruhanga unfit for the position of Attorney General for disregarding the supreme court electoral reforms recommendations arising out of the 2016 Presidential election petition judgement has flopped.
Hearing of the case was expected today but court heard that the William Byaruhanga was outside the country on official duties.
Now hearing of his application has been pushed to next week.
The application will be heard by Seven Justices including; Justice Stellah Arach Amoko, Eldard Mwangusya, Faith Mwhodha, Lillian Tibatemwa, Richard Buteera , Augustine Nshiimye and Jotham Tumwwsigye .
On the 26th of March this year, Prof. Ssempebwa together with other law dons including Fredrick Jjuko and Kituo Cha asked the same court to hold Byaruhanga in contempt of court for allegedly failing to follow up on the said reforms to see that they are implemented and report back to court within two years to check on their progress.
The petitioners claim that Byaruhanga is a senior lawyer who needs to be demoted from an important position as Government chief adviser because his actions and behavior is unbecoming.
They claim that the Supreme court ordered him to make a follow up on the concerned two arms of government regarding the implementation of the above recommendations and report back to the Supreme court within 2 years which has he never did forcing them to seek legal redress.
On the 31st of March 2016, Nine justices of the supreme court led by chief justice Bart Katureebe, ruled that President Museveni lawfully nominated by the electoral commission in accordance with the Presidential Election act which saw him win his fifth term in office.
These however gave 10 key electoral reforms that the Attorney General had to implement before the 2012 General elections.
The attorney General was also ordered to follow up the said reforms together with other state organs including Parliament and the executive and also report back to court on which measures government has taken to see that the said reforms are implemented which has never been done.
Some of the said recommendations was that Government should review the 10 day period within which to file a presidential election petition and the 30 day period within which the court must analyze the said evidence and determine the matter which to the justices was not enough time.
These recommended that the time be amended and increased to 60 days so that the petition can be heard in ample time within which also the new president must be sworn in.
The supreme court also recommended that evidence in regard to the election petition be both oral and affidavit evidence to allow oral examination since affidavits on its own can seem to be unreliable because witnesses tend to be partisan.
These also recommended that the period within which to hold a fresh election once one is annulled be increased from 20 days to a longer and more realistic period since sometimes the hearing and determination of such petitions take longer and also the fact that the electoral commission has had problems in fully holding a free and fair election due to problems like securing funds and importation of electoral materials and those materials reaching in time at polling stations.
These also recommended that a law in regulate the use of analogy in the conduct and management of elections be enacted and within time to train the officials and also sensitize voters and other stake holders over the law.
These also recommended that the law in regard to the use of state owned Media should be adjusted to allow all presidential candidates given equal time and space on state-owned media.
These had found out that state owned Uganda Broadcasting Corporation UBC did fail in its duty of availing all presidential candidates including the opposition equal time.
They therefore recommended that any state organ or officer who violates such laws be punished.
Other recommendations included prohibiting the giving of donations by all candidates including the sitting President who is also a candidate so that there is a level playing field for all.
These had observed that the president continued to give donations even through out his campaign, that the said recommendations be enacted within a period of two years to avoid last minute hastily enacted legislation on elections, the Attorney General to be able to respond to some of the allegations brought against state officers among others and that all public officers should not participate in any political campaign .
On the 1st of March 2016, former Prime minister John Patrick Amama Mbabazi also a former presidential candidate who was the third run-up behind FDCs Ret.Col.Kizza Besigye petitioned the supreme court seeking challenging President Museveni’s victory citing massive election irregularities that were held on the 18th of February 2016.
Mbabazi sued President Museveni together with the Uganda Electoral Commission and the Attorney General.
On the 20th of February 2016, President Museveni was declared winner with 60.62% , while Besigye scored 35.61% and Amama Mbabazi came third with just 1.39% of the total votes cast.
Other Justices on the panel included Justice Jotham Tumwesigye, Esther Kisaakye,Mary Stella Arach Amoko, Augustine Nshimye, Eldad Mwangusya, Rubbu Aweri-Opio, Faith Mwonda and Lillian Tibatemwa.