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Court Dismisses Election Petition Against Dr Michael Bukenya

Dr Bukenya was declared the winner of the election with 15,190 votes against his main challenger Babirye Jane Zaninka, who polled 6,047 votes. But Babirye, a member of the Opposition National Unity Platform – NUP petitioned the High Court in Mubende accusing Dr Bukenya jointly with the Electoral Commission - EC of violating the principles of a free and fair election and constitutionally guaranteed electoral process.
Bukuya County MP Michael Bukenya

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Court has dismissed with costs, an election case in which Babirye Jane Zaninka, a former contestant for the Bukuya County Parliamentary Seat was challenging the outcome of the election which was won by Dr Michael Bukenya.

Dr Bukenya was declared the winner of the election with 15,190 votes against his main challenger Babirye Jane Zaninka, who polled 6,047 votes. But Babirye, a member of the Opposition National Unity Platform – NUP petitioned the High Court in Mubende accusing Dr Bukenya jointly with the Electoral Commission - EC of violating the principles of a free and fair election and constitutionally guaranteed electoral process.       

The Court heard that the EC’s agents committed errors in voting, counting and tabulation of results and that they committed irregularities and improprieties. According to Babirye, there was glaring noncompliance by the EC in handling and filing of Declaration of Results Forms, clerical and mathematical errors as well as incorrect posting of statistics into the DR forms, which led to the omission of votes in the final tally.

Babirye also had complained of the EC’s failure to show the number of ballot papers issued at some polling stations, absence of balance DR forms or fictitious balance DR forms, forging signatures of her agents on DR forms and destroying/hiding original DR forms. She also accused Dr Bukenya himself or his agents of bribery during the election period.   

But High Court Judge Eva Luswata ruled that although there was non-compliance in the conduct of the election of the member of Parliament for Bukuya Constituency, Kassanda district, such non-compliance did not affect the outcome of the election in a substantial manner. The court also rejected the accusations of bribery saying that none of the recipients found it important to report the matter to the Electoral Commission or the police leaving their evidence suspect and weak.         

“I find that on the evidence available, the petitioner failed to prove her claims in the petition on a balance of probabilities, and to the satisfaction of the court.  All declarations and prayers she sought in the petition are denied. Accordingly, the petition stands dismissed with costs to the respondents,” Justice Luswata ruled.

The judge added that she had perused the contested Declaration of Result forms, and found that only two had serious unexplained errors that would point to deliberate tampering. "Going by the large margin between the two candidates, even when completed discounted, there would be only a small effect to the final tallies, and certainly, Bukenya’s tally would not significantly reduce,” the judge ruled.       

The Judge observed that with strong evidence, it was satisfied that 10 or so of Babirye’s agents were arrested and kept in custody at the Bukuya Police Station on polling day. But, she held that the anomalies were minor and can be explained by human error and fatigue that are associated with the exigencies of election day.

She added that inadvertent errors could also be explained by lapses in training but not deliberate tampering and that Dr Bukenya who had no control of the ballot could not be blamed for the anomalies and no evidence was adduced to show that he directed or connived with EC officials to tamper with DR forms.

Dr Bukenya defended himself that he won the election with a considerable margin of 53.47 per cent of the vote and that he was not aware of and did not instigate, order, participate in any voting malpractice, violence or intimidation. Bukenya who did not attend court described the dismissal of the petition as a second win saying it is God-given.          

//Cue in… "naye nga emisango...

Cue out…kyajjakusuusa."//                        

However, Babirye said in an interview said the court decision was delivered unfairly.  She said it did not agree with the court decision and that the judiciary was a disappointment because of the time set for reading the ruling.         

//Cue in; "kuba mu byogedda…

Cue out…ngenda kujjulira."//               

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