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Uganda opposition leader Bobi Wine calls on court to nullify election result

Party lawyer accuses re-elected president Yoweri Museveni of being an ‘agent of violence’

The Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine addressing the media outside his home in Kampala on 26 January. (EPA)

The Ugandan opposition leader and presidential challenger Bobi Wine has filed a petition at the country’s highest court to challenge the re-election of Yoweri Museveni in last month’s polls.

Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, wants the supreme court in the capital, Kampala, to nullify the victory of Museveni in the 14 January poll.

Museveni, 76, who has ruled Uganda without pause since seizing control in 1986, when he helped to end years of tyranny under Idi Amin and Milton Obote, claimed a sixth five-year term, extending his rule to four decades, according to official results.

“What we want from the court is nullification of that election where Museveni was declared. We do not want him to participate in elections in Uganda again because he is an agent of violence,” said Medard Ssegona, the lead lawyer acting on behalf of Wine and his National Unity Platform party (NUP).

“All elections he has participated in have been violent elections. He is a common denominator in the electoral violence of this country. We don’t want him to participate again.”

Wine, a 38-year-old reggae star, said he was the winner of the election and has alleged the military was stuffing ballot boxes, casting ballots for people and chasing voters away from polling stations.

“We have come to report the thieves. We know who stole them [votes] … We have collected and we are still collecting evidence. We have brought it to the courts of law,” said Ssegona. “The suspects [respondents] are three – Yoweri Museveni, Electoral Commission of Uganda and attorney general of this republic. We have done the paperwork and we are still collecting evidence.

“We have gone through a lot. We have been in the hiding because we knew they wanted these documents.”

Museveni has dismissed allegations of vote-rigging, calling the election “the most cheating-free” since independence from Britain in 1962.

Joel Ssenyonyi, a spokesperson for Wine’s party, said there were two schools of thought among members and supporters about the decision to take legal action. “There are those saying going to court is a waste of time. It’s just going to legitimise Museveni because we know how the courts will rule and we agree. We don’t have 100% trust in the courts.

“The other, though we know the court justices are appointed by Museveni and they have always ruled things in his favour, we shall get to use it as a platform to expose the fraud that this election was. We have overwhelming evidence for the court to base it’s verdict. The courts are on trial. Let’s see how they [the judges] deal with this situation.”

In the petition filed in the supreme court on Monday, Wine contends that Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, was not validly elected president and so the result should be annulled.

Wine, who was held under house arrest for 11 days from polling day before the court ordered security forces to vacate his premises, is also seeking a permanent injunction that would restrain the military and police from interfering with electoral processes in future.

This is the fourth petition Museveni has faced, with the veteran opposition leader Kizza Besigye challenging his victories in 2001 and 2006 and the former prime minister Amama Mbabazi launching a court challenge in 2016.

Justine Kasule Lumumba, the secretary general for the ruling National Resistance Movement party, told reporters on Sunday that the party had assembled a legal team to defend Museveni’s victory.

“As a party we have all our declaration [of results] forms from all the polling stations. We have them ready and when we are served, we shall respond,” said Lumumba. “Our lawyers are going through the declaration of results forms to see what is missing so that the secretary general can provide the necessary support.”

This article was published by The Guardian.


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