Court Dismisses Petition Challenging Salim Uhuru’s Election as Kampala Central Division Mayor

Written by on October 1, 2021

The High Court in Kampala has dismissed a petition challenging the election of Salim Uhuru as the Kampala Central Division Mayor.

Uhuru’s victory had been challenged by Ssemugooma Hamdan Kigozi, the runner-up and National Unity Platform sponsored candidate alleging that he was erroneously nominated after failing to present the required signatures supporting his candidature.

Ssemugooma also accused Uhuru of forging some of the signatures supporting his candidature, bribing voters and also having polling stations in military barracks contrary to existing electoral laws. However, in his ruling, the presiding judge Isaac Muwata held that the law required Ssemugooma to raise his objections with the Electoral Commission before polling day. Hence having failed to do so then and wait after he had lost rendered his petition a nonstarter.

“The petitioner never disputed the nomination of the first respondent; the petitioner was comfortable taking part in an election where the law had been broken…why wait all this long to raise a complaint which should have been addressed at a preliminary stage…” Muwata ruled. The court also faulted Ssemugooma for failing to file affidavits supporting his petition during the time allowed by law.

On September 7, the court had allowed Ssemugooma to file 18 affidavits that supported the claim that Uhuru had forged signatures of the seconders of his nomination. However, on scrutiny, Uhuru’s lawyers noted that the affidavits contained claims that had not been pleaded in Ssemugooma’s original petition. The judge also agreed that indeed any affidavits that raises new grounds other than those that were pleaded cannot be admitted by court.

“It is a settled law that a party cannot bring new evidence that is not pleaded. Evidence can only be given on facts that are pleaded to support the assertion but it can’t support facts which cannot be derived from the petition… allowing to introduce new grounds will prejudice the respondents’ case who have already filed their answer,” Muwata said.

Having declined to allow new affidavits and dismissing the claim of irregular nomination, the judge had to rule on whether the petition supported by only the affidavit of the petitioner could continue standing. In the end he ruled that this would be impossible because the petitioner’s affidavit is based on hearsay without any supporting evidence.

“The only remaining evidence to sustain this petition, include stationing polling stations inside military barracks contrary to the law, voters who were not part of the voter’s register, the switching off of the voter identification biometric machine; all these allegations have not been supported by any evidence. Therefore, they cannot be sustained. The residual part of the petition therefore cannot be investigated by this court… I accordingly find that this petition cannot be sustained any further and I strike it out from the court’s record with costs,” Muwata ruled.

Speaking after the ruling, Ssemugooma said he was going to appeal the ruling of the judge. He said it cannot be the same court that allowed him to file additional affidavits and then turn around and reject them.

But Uhuru welcomed the judgement and said it confirms the decision of voters that he’s the rightfully elected mayor of Kampala Central Division.

Kampala Central was the only division in Kampala that was won by a candidate sponsored by the ruling National Resistance Movement political party. The rest of the divisions including most of the councilors were won by National Unity Platform sponsored candidates.

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