The Supreme Court has adjourned the hearing of an application filed by Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, the former National Unity Platform (NUP) presidential candidate withdrawing his electoral petition until it’s published in the Uganda Gazette – the official government publication in which all government decisions and bills among others are published before they take effect or become law.
Kyagulanyi filed the application to withdraw the petition on Wednesday morning as the Supreme Court convened to hold a conferencing session to agree on the issues to be determined in the petition that sought to annul President Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Museveni’s re-election to a sixth elective presidential term.
Kyagulanyi’s lead lawyer, Medard Lubega Sseggona informed the panel of nine Supreme Court justices that he had filed an application seeking to formally withdraw the petition and asked the court to guide him on how to proceed.
“We know there are some processes that have to be followed. We seek your guidance on that before we go to the petition,” Sseggona said.
Sseggona said they wanted to inform the court on Monday but didn’t succeed to do so because by the time they were ready, the court had closed.
Attorney General, William Byaruhanga, who is the third respondent to the application, said they were ready to proceed with the normal business but the court had to first entertain the application to withdraw the petition.
“We were supposed to be here for conferencing but there is an application to withdraw the petition. We have been served this morning,” Byaruhanga said.
Byaruhanga said if Sseggona is able to serve them with the affidavits supporting the withdrawal of the petition today, they will be able to respond to them before the end of Friday.
Court then set Saturday this week as the deadline to submit all the necessary affidavits from the applicant and the respondents and the necessary rejoinders.
The Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo said that under the law, Kyagulanyi has a right to withdraw his petition at any time which however has to be handled under the dictates of the same law.
According to the law governing presidential election petitions, to withdraw a petition, the petitioner has to write an application and swear an affidavit him/herself and his lawyer supporting it stating clearly the reasons for their decision to withdraw the petition.
“We will have that Affidavit today, a copy will be put on the notice board, and the [court] Registrar will also cause it to be put in the official Gazette. Once the notice comes in the Gazette, we will inform you when to proceed. This is all about the importance of a Presidential Election Petition. It’s not handled like other matters. Even getting out, you have to go through the process,” Owiny-Dollo said.
Dollo said the parties should be ready to proceed with the hearing of the application by Monday provided the Gazette is out. He adjourned the court sine die meaning; there is no set date for reconvening.
On Monday, Kyagulanyi told a press conference at the NUP headquarters at Kamwokya in Kampala that he had lost interest in his petition because of what he called open bias and lack of independence exhibited by the Court.
He cited the Court’s refusal to admit amendments to his petition plus additional evidence in form of affidavits to back his case.
He had earlier asked Dollo and justices Mike Chibita and Ezekiel Muhanguzi to recuse themselves from the case on account of their previous relationship with Museveni, the first respondent to the application.
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