Court orders evicted MPs back to parliament

By Sania Babirye

The supreme court has vacated a constitutional court ruling that had nullified the election of six members of Parliament from the newly formed municipalities.

Six out of the seven justices led by Justice Stella Arachi Amoko have instead ordered that the affected legislators to stay in Parliament until a consolidated appeal in which government, the MPs and the electoral commission challenging the same is heard and disposed off.

According to the Judges, the pending appeal raises serious constitutional and legal matters that must be resolved and that since the petitioners did demonstrate seriousness in pursuing the appeal, it was only fair and just that the eviction order is halted and have the appeal prosecuted first.

The justices have now ordered that the said order stays in place until further directives are made .

On the 27th of December 2019, the constitutional court evicted the MPs from their seats following a petition by former Bufumbira East MP Kwezira Eddie challenging their legality saying the said municipalities did not exist since they had not been demarcated and were formed after the 2016 general elections which the constitutional court was in agreement.

The constitutional court had Stated that the said MPs had to wait until this current 10th Parliament ended and contested in the coming one.

The MPs who were kicked out of Parliament include Bugiri Municipality MP Asuman Basalirwa, Sheema’s MP Dr.Eldard Mwesigye, Kotido’s MP Abraham Ziloki, Nebi’s Hashim Sulaiman, Ibanda’s Tarsis and Apach MP Patrick Ochan.

However, in February 2020, the government of Uganda through its attorney general and Electoral commission appealed the said eviction and asked the supreme court to over turn the constitutional court ruling on ground that it was unconstitutional.

According to principle state attorney George Kallemera and Eric Sabiti who is representing the electoral commission, the constitutional court ruling is unconstitutional because it is in contravention of the will of the people who elected the said MPs to represent them.

Appearing before the seven panel led by Justice Esther Kisakye, both lawyers submitted that the said affected MPs were unfairly evicted from Parliament since the lower court did not give them a chance to defend themselves.

These further stated that the constitutional court also had no powers to declare the said seats vacant and are challenging its legality in the supreme court still with a high chance of it succeeding.

According to the lawyers, if the ruling is not stayed, their case in which they are challenging the constitutional court jurisdiction to declare the six seats vacant will have been taken by events and rendered useless on top of their clients suffering irreparable damages.

However, the petitioner and former Bufumbira East Member of Parliament Kwezira Eddie led by his lawyers Ben Wacha and Wanders Ogalo asked the supreme court to dismiss the said petition in grounds that it is baseless.

According to Wanders and Ogalo, the respondents failed to clearly state how they will suffer irreparable damages because no right to a fair hearing was violated since the said positions were newly created and the affected MPs were not party to the constitutional petition and did not even ask to join as a party.

They said that if the MPs sought to be party to the said petition they should have filled their grievances in the same lower court instead of running to the supreme court and court has reserved its judgement on notice.