Election Petitions from 2021-2026 Cycle Still Unsettled: 16 Cases in Question

Election Petitions in Uganda Remain Unresolved
Pending Election Petitions: 16 Cases Await Resolution
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Kampala, Uganda – As of September 12, 2023, there are 16 election petitions from the 2021-2026 election cycle that remain unresolved in both the High Court and Court of Appeal.

These petitions, which have been in the justice system for over two years, involve Members of Parliament and local government leaders.

The Chief Registrar of the Courts of Judicature, Ms. Sarah Langa Siu, stated that despite the current pending cases, all the petitions filed shortly after the 2021 general polls were processed within the designated time frames. She also noted that the Court of Appeal had concluded handling all the election petition appeals filed by the close of the 2021/2022 Financial Year.

Some of the petitions had reached the Court of Appeal, which ordered retrials at the High Court. This necessitated the allocation of judges to handle these matters, resulting in some being concluded, while others are back in the Court of Appeal. As a result, there are eight matters pending in the Court of Appeal.

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According to Section 63 (3) of the Parliamentary Elections Act, election petitions should be heard and determined within six months from the date of filing. With 16 petitions still undecided, some politicians could potentially be holding office illegally.

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Judicial records indicate that 104 election petitions were filed across the country challenging the election of MPs, along with 49 petitions concerning local government positions. Notably, there was only one presidential election petition filed by Mr. Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, which challenged the victory of incumbent President Museveni; however, he withdrew the petition. Most of the other election petitions were heard in May and June 2021.

Ms. Langa mentioned that all the petitions at the Court of Appeal are scheduled for hearing in a session to be determined before the end of the financial year. Meanwhile, those at the High Court are at various stages of the hearing process, with some awaiting rulings and judgments.

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Last month, the Electoral Commission released the roadmap for the 2026 general elections, emphasizing early preparations and sufficient funding for all activities. Key milestones in the roadmap include updating the voters’ register in January 2025, presidential nominations in October 2025, and the elections scheduled between January 12 and February 9, 2026.

Regarding pending petitions at the High Court, the Judiciary Public Relations Officer, Justice James Ereemye Mawanda, explained that there are four election petitions resulting from retrial orders by the Court of Appeal. While most of the petitions from the previous election cycle were handled promptly, five were sent for retrial, with two still under hearing and three pending the fixing of hearing dates.

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In the Court of Appeal, there were initially ten cases, and three additional applications were filed. However, due to the complexity of these cases, trial proceedings were often hindered by the nonattendance of the plaintiffs and their advocates. Justice Mawanda expressed confidence that with judges back in their positions, they will focus on ensuring that these cases are resolved without further delay.


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