Uganda opposition leader Bobi Wine has filed a petition seeking to nullify the reelection of longtime President Yoweri Museveni.
Wine told Journalists on Monday, as his National Unity Platform (NUP) party legal team filed the petition with the Supreme Court, that it can show fraud resulted in Museveni’s victory last month.
WIne is supported by other opposition parties and is calling for a new election.
“We want [the] court to nullify that election where Museveni was declared winner because he is an agent of violence,” Wine said, claiming there has been violence and abductions by security forces.
“We are convinced as the legal team and as a party that we have enough evidence to succeed in this particular cause if all factors remain constant especially, independence of the judiciary,” said NUP lead lawyer Anthony Wameli.
Wine — a singer-turned-politician whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi — was the main opposition frontrunner in the presidential elections held on January 14. His decision to go to court followed intense discussions with his NUP party leadership and other opposition parties who have been collecting evidence on his behalf while under house arrest since casting his vote.
Museveni was reelected with 58.38% of the total votes cast compared to Wine’s 35.08%, with nine other candidates picking up the rest. Over 10 million valid votes were counted in a country with 18 million registered voters, according to the Electoral Commission.
The petition claims the election was “invalid” because it was not free and fair — a requirement of the Ugandan Constitution. Wine’s grievances include “systematic interruption and frustration” of his campaign, limiting internet access and misuse of military control of the election.
The petition also claims Museveni failed to maintain an accurate voters’ registry and to stop ballot stuffing and multiple voting.
Wine and his party have not shown publicly evidence of many of its complaints. The petition said that will be produced at trial.
In an address to the nation days after being declared winner, Museveni dismissed allegations of vote-rigging, saying “this was the most peaceful election Uganda has ever held since independence from Britain in 1962.”
Article 104 of the Constitution, as amended in 2017, allows a presidential candidate up to 15 days after the declaration of results to file a petition in the Supreme Court. The 15 days elapsed on Sunday but the NUP team was allowed to file Monday.
In response, Museveni’s ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party says it has been on standby and is ready to defend its candidate’s victory.
“We made all the necessary preparations to handle the NUP’s presidential election petition which has been filed in the Supreme Court today,” said NRM secretary-general, Justine Kasule Lumumba. “Electoral Commission (EC) got the full results, they gave us a copy. Our lawyers are going through the declaration of results forms to see what is missing so that the secretary-general can provide the necessary support.”
Wine is the third presidential candidate to petition the Supreme Court and challenge a Museveni victory. Previous petitions filed by Amama Mbabazi in 2016 and Kizza Besigye in 2001 and 2006 led to the court finding gross irregularities. However, it never nullified the results of those elections, saying the misconduct did not affect them substantially.
When this was put to the NUP’s lawyer, George Musisi, on Monday, he told CNN that “we intend to give it our best shot.”
“We hope the court can be bolder this time,” he added.
The European Union and United States have called for a probe into Ugandan election abuses and violence.