A week to the start of the Supreme Court’s hearing of a petition challenging the outcome of the January 14 presidential elections, the petitioner, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu has asked the Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo to recuse himself from the petition.
According to Kyagulanyi, Dollo cannot be an independent juror in the case given his past close working relationship with President Yoweri Museveni, the first respondent in the case.
The Chief Justice was a member of the Constituent Assembly (CA) that wrote the 1995 Constitution before joining Parliament as MP for Agago county between 1996 and 2001.
He was appointed to the High Court as a judge in 2008 having represented the government in the 2006 to 2008 talks with Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels.
Kyagulanyi also wants justices Mike Chibita and Ezekiel Muhanguzi to withdraw from the case given that Chibita worked for seven years as Museveni’s private secretary for legal affairs while Muhanguzi is a relative to Security minister, Gen. Elly Tumwine.
This, Kyagulanyi reasoned, compromises the three justices and cannot therefore be trusted.
Kyagulanyi’s demands are similar to those of lawyer, Hassan Male Mabirizi who filed an application in the Supreme Court asking the Chief Justice to recuse himself from the case because he was part of Museveni’s legal team in the 2006 presidential petition filed by Dr. Kizza Besigye.
Kyagulanyi accused the Supreme Court of being biased, citing its refusal to open and receive his petition on Saturday, January 30 but opened on Saturday, February 6, to receive Museveni’s response to the case.
He further castigated the court for declining to receive evidence in more than 250 affidavits his lawyers filed on Monday, February 15, on grounds that he was out of time yet in earlier petitions, new evidence was admitted during the hearing.
“We haven’t started hearing the petition but the Supreme Court is rejecting new evidence. Why yet there are precedents from previous petitions that new evidence was allowed during the hearing? We believe that the court is working on Museveni’s orders,” Kyagulanyi said.
“We want to put the Supreme Court on notice; if this persists, we are not going to be part of that mockery, the next step will be to take the matter to the public court,” he added.
Kyagulanyi addressed the press conference after a meeting with part of his legal team at the National Unity Platform (NUP) offices but it remained unclear whether he had given them instructions to file the application before the Supreme Court.