By Benjamin Mwibo
The Judiciary has lined up a team of 32 judges to hear electoral petitions, starting August 16, 2021 across the country.
According to Jameson Karemani, the spokesperson judiciary, the judiciary received 155 Parliamentary and local council election petitions for court hearing.
Addressing journalists at the Uganda Media Center in Kampala, on Tuesday, Karemani said the petitions arising from the January 2021 general elections, were submitted to the judiciary on July 14, 2021.
“We were to hear the election petitions as judiciary in June but because of the second lockdown we were unable, however I am happy to mention that we are now currently set to hear the petitions by 16 of August 2021,” Karemani said.
Karemani noted that the principal judge was tasked by the Chief Justice in the guidelines raised on August 3rd to put into effect an arrangement on how to begin the hearing of the petitions.
About the 32 judges set to hear the petitions, Karemani explained that in deployment of the judges, the principal judge considered the number of petitions that were filed per district adding that the highest number of judges has been allocated to Mbale district to handle a total number of 31 petitions that were filed there.
“Kampala has four judges at Twed towers and coordination is at civil division, Arua one judge, Fortportal three judges , Gulu one judge, Jinja four judges, Kabaale one judge, Lira high Court one judge, Masaka high Court two judges, Masindi two judges, Mbarara high Court one judge , Mpigi one judge and Mbale with the highest number of six judges,” he said.
He noted that with covid-19 still in existence and observation of SOPs, the Chief Justice has come up with guidelines meant to be followed during the hearing of these petitions in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Karemani added that; “we shall expect only the parties in these petitions, their advocates , any witnesses that may be summoned in hearing of the petitions and the media in the petition area with a temporarily separate area that shall be created for those whose petitions are not ongoing to wait until they are called upon in order to ensure the SOPs in place”.
He said each petition will be addressed at a specific time in order to minimize big numbers at the courts and under circumstances where parties and advocates involved in a single petition exceed ten the judicial officers are advised to use audio and visual links to conduct the hearings.
“The end and beginning of the petition is all under law guidelines, this states that the petition is supposed to last for 30days once hearing starts,” he said.
Karemani noted that there are 14 circuits as well as one division of the High court that will be handling petitions from Kampala and Luweero district.