Uganda’s disputed presidential poll challenged in court

By AT editor - 2 March 2016 at 2:31 pm


KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — A Ugandan opposition group on Tuesday launched a legal challenge to the disputed re-election of long-time President Yoweri Museveni, saying his victory should be nullified over alleged irregularities and illegalities.

The group, known as Go Forward, filed the challenge in Uganda’s Supreme Court.

Go Forward’s candidate in the presidential election, held last month, was former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi. Mbabazi believes he had more support than the 1.4 percent of votes that he obtained in the official tally, said Severino Twinobusingye, a lawyer for Go Forward.

“The electoral commission did not comply with the letter and spirit of the law,” said Twinobusingye. “It conducted what could only be described as a sham election.”

Museveni, in power since 1986, won about 60 percent of the votes and his nearest rival, opposition leader Kizza Besigye, got about 35 percent. Museveni denied the allegations of vote fraud and vowed to “use both soft and hard means” to protect Uganda’s peace.

Besigye, who is under house arrest, has not filed a legal challenge, saying doing so would “legitimize” what he called a fraudulent election.

Efforts by Besigye’s party, the Forum for Democratic Change, to gather evidence for a possible court case were foiled by the police, said party lawyer Yusuf Nsibambi. Hundreds of the party’s representatives, including some who carried crucial polling materials, had been arrested while others went into hiding, Nsibambi said.

Besigye has run against Museveni four times and has lost previous court battles over election results, with judges saying the irregularities were not substantial enough to change the final outcome.

Many observers said the election was married by irregularities. The European Union observer mission spoke of an “intimidating atmosphere” mainly created by the government and said the election commission lacked independence and transparency.

RODNEY MUHUMUZA, Associated Press

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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