The National Resistance Movement party’s legal director, Oscar Kihika has assured Ugandans that the party will do what it takes to defend Museveni’s victory in a petition in which the National Unity Platform (NUP)’s Robert Kyagulanyi is seeking for the annulment of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s January 14 presidential election victory.
Kihika, who was addressing journalists together with the Director for Communications in the NRM, Emmanuel Dombo, at the NRM Secretariat in Kampala asked the public not to underestimate such petitions saying that, a person who files a presidential petition should be treated seriously.
“It is someone’s right to exercise their constitutional rights and a petition of this nature is not a simple one given that a lot of work will have to be presented,” Kihika said.
On Monday February 1, 2021, Kyagulanyi through his lawyers filed a legal challenge in the country’s Supreme Court, seeking cancellation of the results of last month’s presidential election that handed the incumbent Yoweri Museveni victory
Kyagulanyi cited 26 grounds on which they base their petition including ballot stuffing, intimidation of NUP agents and supporters and pre-ticked ballot papers.
Kihika said, NUP’s petition is different as it’s the first presidential election petition presented since the Constitution was amended to create a tight timeline of 45 days in which the petition has to be heard from its day of filing.
Kihika explained that such petitions can not be handled by an individual or a single law firm.
“Let no one deceive you that one lawyer will sit and defend a party in such a case. You can see the number of law firms that the petitioner involved. They are five in number. Therefore, we also have a little bit more number of law firms with around 40 lawyers,” he said.
He added, “Although what we have chosen to do as required by law, is to collectively decide that our address of service is going to be K & K Advocates.”.
Dombo confirmed that the party Secretary General had received the petition on behalf of the President at the supreme court and through his lawyers of K &K advocates, the president responded in time.
“I want to assure you that our legal team has responded to the petition as of yesterday and that is within the time required by the Constitution and the Presidential Elections Act,” Dombo said.
He added that the party was obligated to defend the decision made by majority of Ugandan voters.
According to Kihika, the petitioners have an uphill task defending their claims.
“As you are aware, regarding the quality of the petition, petitioners usually have very difficult jobs. Making allegations is one thing and getting to prove them is totally different. Just like many other petitions where I have participated and we found very little evidence. We shall successfully win this battle as well,” he said.
“This is the first round of documents in this petition that is filed. In the second round of documents is where both parties will put their additional supporting evidence.
So, we as NRM we are ready to put in more supporting answers to the petition. We shall therefore be working throughout these 45 days starting from the date the petition was filed,” Kihika added.
He said what will follow is the assessment of the process called pre-trial conference which is scheduled to take place on Thursday 11th February 2021 at 9 am.
The pre-trial conference involves the petitioners and all the respondents interacting with the court. What is done here is laying down the ground for the filed petition.
The court looks into preliminary assessment of the complaints and the answers, gives directions as to the filing of documents and subsequent evidence. The court will also review timelines of arguments for each side.