The High Court in Kampala has set August 30, 2021 as the date to start hearing the matter in which former Entebbe Municipality Mayor Vincent Kayanja DePaul challenges the victory of the current Mayor Fabrice Rulinda.
On May 06, 2021 Kayanja through his lawyers of Alaka & Co. Advocates and Kizito Lumu & Co. Advocates filed a petition challenging Rulinda’s victory and wants the court to annul it and instead declare him as the duly elected Mayor of Entebbe Municipality.
“We shall start the actual hearing of this petition on August 30, 2021 at 10am in which our major contention is that the electoral commission declared the person who came third as the winner of that election. This matter came up today for pre-trial to set a schedule against which we shall expedite this matter in the interest of the people of Entebbe Municipality,” said Mr Samuel Muyizi of Alaka & Co. Advocates.
He added: “We have all the original declaration (DR) forms with all the electronic features, all signatures of presiding officers and agents of all candidates. The tally sheets of Kayanja and other candidates indicated clearly that Kayanja won that election but the results that were declared at Wakiso contradict what is represented in the DR forms and it’s the reason we came to this honourable court to establish the circumstances under which the returning officer of Wakiso District declared a third person in the race as the winner.”
Kayanja in his petition complains that the election of the Entebbe Municipality Mayor was not conducted in accordance with the electoral laws and that, there was non-compliance, and failure to conduct free and fair elections which affected the results in a substantial manner.
He also contends that the presiding officers committed electoral offences by failing without lawful excuse to furnish true returns of the election to the returning officer within the timeframe in which they were required.
“Presiding officers and the returning officer deliberately made a wrong entry on the final tally sheet by posting wrong votes at the respective polling station and this affected the final results in the return form for transmission of results to the electoral commission,” the petition reads in part.
Mr Kayanja also claims that several votes at several polling stations were not included in the final tally sheet, something the returning officer had no explanation for. In the January 25 mayoral elections, the returning officer for Wakiso District declared Mr Rulinda as the winner of the hotly contested race with 6,703 votes against Mr Kayanja who garnered 5,576 votes.
The other contestants in the race were, Mr Micheal Mutebi (NRM) with 6,342 votes, Ms Olive Nassuna (NUP) with 2,499 votes, Alliance for National Transformation (ANT)’s Kenneth Ssimbwa with 45 votes, former Entebbe Municipality MP Muhammed Kawuma got 521 votes while Gerald Muwonge (Indep) garnered 13 votes.
Court documents also indicate that Mr Rulinda through his lawyers of Kaddu & Partners Advocates and MAGNA Advocates responded to the petition.
“There was no evidence of electoral fraud or falsification of votes as alleged by the petitioner and neither Rulinda nor his agents were involved in any alleged fraud or falsification of votes,” Mr Rulinda said.
Mr Rulinda contends that the counting of votes cast for each candidate at all the polling stations was transparently done in the presence of all candidates’ agents who wished to be present and who, without objection duly signed the Declaration of Results(DR) forms and the tally sheets. Rulinda also argues that failure to use an electronic display system cannot invalidate the results of an election.
“The petition is incompetent and it shall be prayed on behalf of Rulinda that it should be dismissed with costs,” stated in Rulinda’s response. Mr Rulinda also avers that save for the fact that there was an election conducted for the position of chairperson of Entebbe Municipality, the other adverse allegations in the petition are denied among other answers to the petition.
According to court documents, the Electoral commission contends that the election was free, fair, administered in an impartial, neutral, efficient, accurate, and accountable manner. The document also indicates that the Electoral commission or its officials never altered or made false declarations of votes and or failed to ascertain, tabulate, declare and gazette the actual results of the election.
“In further response, the petitioner’s agents signed declaration of results forms where he had appointed agents and no incident of impersonation, improper distribution of the materials and early closure was reported. The electoral commission shall contend that if there were any irregularities or non-compliance with electoral laws which are denied, such noncompliance and irregularities did not affect the outcome of the election in a substantial manner,” issued in part the defence by the electoral commission.
The electoral body prays that the court finds no merit in the petition and be dismissed with costs.