EC asks court to dismiss Lukwago case

EC asks court to dismiss Lukwago case

Lukwago maintains that Justice Byabakama had no mandate to issue the impugned directives since the President, Parliament and Cabinet did not find it necessary to declare a state of emergency in the country.

Erias Lukwago

Lawyers of the Electoral Commission (EC) have asked High Court judge Musa Ssekaana to dismiss Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago’s suit challenging a ban on campaigns in the city.

In their submission, Eric Sabiiti and Ahmed Lugoloobi said Lukwago’s application lacks merit.

“My lord, it is our submission that this application is incompetent because it is a disguised judicial review application and should be dismissed with costs,” Sabiiti submitted.

He insists that EC chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama is empowered to issue directives pertaining the conduct of the elections depending on the prevailing circumstances in the country.

“We decided to ban campaigns in Kampala and several districts because of non-compliance with the COIVID-19 standard operating procedures,” Sabiiti said.

He also tendered in court an affidavit of Dr Henry Kyobe, who he said advised them before reaching the impugned decision.

In reply, Lukwago said the impugned directive violates the doctrine of legitimate expectation.

“It is the EC which issued the electoral roadmap in the middle of the pandemic and it cannot deviate from the same,” Lukwago said.

“The health ministry amended its statutory instrument and allowed gathering of not more than 200 people. So, where does Justice Byabakama get powers to revoke the statutory instrument issued by the health ministry,” Lukwago asked.

Lukwago maintains that Justice Byabakama had no mandate to issue the impugned directives since the President, Parliament and Cabinet did not find it necessary to declare a state of emergency in the country.

The judge said he will deliver his ruling on the matter on January 6.

On Monday (December 28, 2021), Lukwago petitioned court seeking to have the ban on campaigns in the city quashed. Lukwago argues that the guidelines are not only illegal, but also unconstitutional. EC is listed as the respondent in the matter.

“You cannot purport to say that you have suspended the campaigns because of the pandemic, yet business is going on as usual and the city is full to capacity. Places of worship are open then why don’t you allow people to campaign? Is COVID-19 only restricted to political activities and it is the only thing that spreads COVID-19?” Lukwago said.

In his petition, Lukwago wonders how the Police will enforce the guidelines, which he purports were issued in a press statement.

Lukwago maintains that if there was a need to control freedom of assembly on account of the prevailing situation, the Government should have declared a state of emergency in the country as provided for under Article 110 of the Constitution.

Background 

Last week, Byabakama banned campaigns in several districts, including Kampala in a move he said was meant to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, which has turned lethal.

Byabakama advised politicians in the said places to resort to social media and other mass media for their campaigns.

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