Africa

Uganda: Top judge refuses to recuse self from poll case

Chief justice was defense lawyer for President Museveni in similar case in 2006, says petitioner

Hamza Kyeyune   | 23.02.2021
Uganda: Top judge refuses to recuse self from poll case

KAMPALA, Uganda 

The Supreme Court of Uganda Tuesday dismissed an application seeking to remove Chief Justice Owinyi Dollo from the bench of justices hearing a petition against the presidential elections.

On Jan. 16, President Yoweri Museveni, 75, who has ruled Uganda for 35 years, was declared the winner of the Jan. 14 election. He was re-elected with 58% of the vote against frontrunner Bobi Wine's 35%.

Wine insists the election was rigged. Several observers and human rights groups have also raised concerns that the vote was not credible.

On Monday, Wine withdrew his petition from the Supreme Court, seeking to overturn the presidential election results, citing bias. He said he would go to “the public court of the people of Uganda”.

Wine said he believed the Supreme Court could not be impartial, citing a recent meeting between President Museveni and the chief justice, in which the judiciary’s budget for 2021/2022 was presented to the president. “This indicates the chief justice has a pre-determined mind that Museveni will be president a year from now, even when he had a petition before him,” Wine said.

The judiciary said Tuesday Wine will have to file a formal application to withdraw the case.

In an earlier application, a lawyer had asked the chief justice to recuse himself from the case, because he was a defense lawyer for President Museveni in a similar case in 2006. He also accused the chief justice of meeting Museveni at the State House after Wine filed his petition. However, the chief justice declined to recuse himself.

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