Uganda: Expelled MPs Did Not Get Fair Hearing - Lawyers

7 February 2020

The Attorney General and lawyers of the Electoral Commission have asked the Supreme Court to stay the execution of the Constitutional Court ruling which dismissed six Members of Parliament representing newly created municipalities.

The judgement affected; Apac Municipality Member of Parliament, Patrick Ocan, Sheema Municipality MP, Dr Elioda Tumwesigye, Ibanda Municipality MP, Tarsis Rwaburindore Bishanga, Nebbi Municipality MP Hashim Sulaiman, Kotido Municipality MP, Abrahams Lokii and Asuman Basalirwa for Bugiri Municipality.

The constitutional court noted that the MPs contested for non-existing positions because their constituencies' villages or cells and other administrative units had not yet been demarcated by the Electoral Commission.

Last month, the lawyers filed an application in the Supreme Court seeking stay of execution.

The application is being heard by Justices Dr Esther Kisaakye, Stella Arach Amoko, Opio Aweri, Lillian Tibatemwa, Richard Buteera, Mike Chibita and Paul Mugamba.

On Thursday, George Karemeera and Eric Sabiti, lawyers from the Attorney General and Electoral Commission respectively argued that the constitutional court ruling was unlawful because the MPs were not given the chance to defend themselves in court.

"There is also a consideration of the right to a fair hearing for MPs who were ejected. We shall address that such a fundamental human right cannot be washed away and the respondent/complainant's (Eddie Kwizera) interest is constitutionalism and human rights. We feel it is primarily sufficient for this court to determine," Mr Karemeera said.

Sabiti argued that the constitutional court ruling is likely to cause irreparable damages to the affected MPs and the persons who voted them into office.

However Kwizera's lawyer Ben Wacha insisted that there is no need to stay the execution of the ruling since it's clear that the MPs stood for non-existing positions contrary to the laws governing this country.

"The petition giving rise to the judgment and orders was based on issues regarding the creation of municipalities as electoral constituencies and the act of holding elections and they have nothing to do with the MPs who stood for elections. The elections in these areas were alien to the Constitution and can only be found unconstitutional," Mr Wacha said.

Mr Wandera Ogalo, Kwizera's other lawyer, also argued that if the constitutional court ruling is halted, it could have a big impact on the forthcoming 2021 general election.

Speaking to journalists shortly after the court session, MP Basalirwa said that they will continue serving in their constituencies as they await the Supreme Court to make its ruling on the application.

Mr Kwizera, the former MP for Bufumbira County East, sued the AG jointly with EC challenging the legality of 83 constituencies, which he said were illegally created by Parliament in collusion with the Executive.

After hearing submissions from both parties to the petition, the panel of seven justices of the Supreme Court said they would deliver their ruling on notice.

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