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Uganda’s Go Forward leader of Opposition and former PM Amama Mbabazi Fronts 60 Lawyers For Petition

All set. The former prime minister’s team will be lead by Mr John Mary Mugisha who pushed for the expulsion of four NRM MPs out of Parliament.

Go Forward leader and former presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi has assembled 60 lawyers to prosecute his petition challenging President Museveni’s election.

The team, according to Go Forward deputy communications director Maggie Lukowe, will be led by Mr John Mary Mugisha.

Mr Mugisha worked with Mr Mbabazi while the latter was still prime minister in President Museveni’s government. He led the NRM team of attorneys that pushed for the expulsion of the four renegade party MPs Theodore Ssekikubo, Barnabas Tinkasiimire, Wilfred Niwagaba and Muhammed Nsereko, from the NRM and Parliament.

He moved on with Mr Mbabazi when the former prime minister fell out with the regime, and has since been handling his legal tasks.

Although Ms Lukowe didn’t name all the 60 lawyers, she said lawyers Severino Twinobusingye, Michael Akampurira and Fred Muwema will join Mr Mugisha on the legal team. The four are the leaders of the four law firms that Mr Mbabazi hired at the beginning of his presidential bid.

Mr Twinobusingye and Akampurira have been the face of the petition, having been the ones who went to the Supreme Court to file the petition and also proceeded to State House to serve Mr Museveni with a copy of the petition.

Mr Twinobusingye declined to comment on the team’s preparedness for the petition and the level of evidence they have collected, preferring to only say “the legal team is quite strong”.
However, Ms Lukowe gave snippets into the court preparations.
“We have collected quite a number of affidavits. We have not yet done a census but I can say they are in thousands,” she said.

She said they have collected evidence on ballot stuffing, pre- ticking of ballots, falsified election results, late delivery of voting material, use of abusive language and bribery, among others.

In the petition filed on deadline day on Tuesday, Mr Mbabazi gave 28 grounds on which he is challenging Electoral Commission’s declaration of Mr Yoweri Museveni as President.

The grounds are divided into two sections; non-compliance with the law and commission of electoral offences. He says given the circumstances surrounding the voting and tallying of results, it cannot be ascertained that Museveni received above 50 per cent vote to be declared winner. He wants the election annulled and fresh elections ordered.

The petition will be heard by all the nine justices of the Supreme Court bench and the hearing begins on Monday with pre-trial proceedings for all the parties to agree on the issues to be determined by the court.
The court has 30 days to hear the petition and deliver the judgment.
Mr Museveni and the NRM will be represented by a team of 36 lawyers led by the party’s head of legal services and the former Law Society President, Mr James Mukasa Sebugenyi.

The team will have Mr Peter Kabatsi, a former solicitor general, Mr Joseph Matsiko, a former director of Civil Litigation, Mr Kiryowa Kiwanuka, Mr Didas Nkurunziza, Mr Ebert Byenkya, Mr Barnabas Tumusingize, Mr John Fisher Kanyemebwa as the lead counsel. According to Mr Sebugenyi, Mr Oscar Kihika, will be the spokesperson for the NRM team.

The Electoral Commission has hired four external law firms to bolster its team which will be led by head of the EC legal department, Mr Eric Sabiiti.

The external lawyers were drawn from city law firms- Tumusiime, Kabega & Co Advocates, Oryem Okello & Co Advocates, Burungyi, Barata & Co Advocates and Karuhanga, Kasajja & Co Advocates.

By Robert Muriisa.

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