28 November 2013

Uganda: Court Reinstates Impeached Kampala Mayor

Kampala — A Ugandan court on Thursday reinstated Kampala mayor Erias Lukwago after he was earlier voted out of office by the city's council (KCCA).

The court granted Lukwago an interim injunction against his removal from office until his case against a tribunal which found him liable for incompetence and abuse of office is heard by court.

The minister in charge of Kampala, Frank Tumwebaze, who chaired the meeting which resulted in the removal of Lukwago from office, said the High Court ruling had been overtaken by recent events.

"The interim injunction is impossible to implement as we cannot stop a meeting that has already occurred. In fact, the seat of the lord mayor has already been declared vacant and the Electoral Commission has been accordingly informed", Tumwebaze said in a statement.

However, Lukwago, an ardent critic of president Yoweri Museveni, claims the government wants him removed from office because of his criticism of the country's leadership.

His supporters took to the streets in Kampala to celebrate following the High Court's ruling.

Speaking after his legal victory in court, Lukwago said he was willing to work with his opponents for the development of the city.

"This is the time for us to bury the hatchet and work together", he said in an address to his chanting supporters who thronged to the streets of Kampala.

Lukwago was voted out of office on Monday by an overwhelming 29 to three vote majority.

Uganda's attorney-general, Peter Nyombi, said on Thursday that the impeachment of the mayor still stands despite the court's ruling.

"None of the reliefs granted to Mr Erias Lukwago by the High Court requires his reinstatement to the office of lord mayor. The resolution passed by the KCCA councillors removing Mr Lukwago from the office of the lord mayor remains valid", said Nyombi.

The KCCA has meanwhile suspended operations, explaining that it took the measure to protect council staff from being attacked by supporters of the mayor.

"Unless the safety of our staff and government property under our custody is assured, it is difficult for our operations, as the implementing arm of KCCA, to continue blindly in the face of these increasing threats", said Jennifer Musisi, the council's executive director.

The Ugandan capital was last week a scene of running battles between Lukwago supporters and those of another opposition leader, Kiiza Besigye, Museveni's former personal doctor turned political foe.

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