As Western Sponsors of Dictator Museveni Shun Regime, Challenger Bobi Wine Withdraws Court Challenge

Bobi Wine Presumptive winner of Uganda's presidential election
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[My Free Thoughts]

As the Western countries that fund dictator Gen. Yoweri Museveni’s regime in Uganda continue to distance themselves, challenger and presumptive winner of the Jan. 14 presidential election Robert Kyagulanyi, a.k.a. Bobi Wine, has withdrawn his court challenge seeking to overcome the results. Museveni’s hand-picked election “commission” awarded him “victory” on Jan. 16, even though the country was under a total internet blackout, meaning no data could have been transmitted from the more than 34,000 polling stations.

“We are withdrawing from the court but we are not opting for violence. We are going to the court of public opinion and we shall be informing the people of Uganda our next steps,” said Bobi Wine, after instructing his lawyers to withdraw the election petition against Gen. Museveni. He said the judges, all appointed by dictator Museveni, were not impartial. 

Bobi Wine enumerated several instances demonstrating  bias by the court. Recently the Chief Justice Owiny Dollo and others met with Gen. Museveni. Subsequently, before Gen. Museveni, Owiny Dollo thanked the dictator for promising to deliver on "some favors" for the judiciary, one year from now; meaning the court had already concluded that Museveni would still be president. Owiny Dollo also presented a budget request to Gen. Museveni, implying a quid-pro-quo.

Bobi Wine has already rejected the 59% to 35% election "victory" awarded Museveni by his election commission, but even the dictator's international backers have refuted the election. Gen. Museveni’s regime gets almost $2 billion annually from the U.S. and European countries. 

The election was violent, with attacks against the opposition leaders, their supporters, and journalists, by police and the military. Museveni, who depends on the West for budgetary and military support is under tremendous pressure. The U.S. which provides almost $1 billion annually in financial and military support, has called the election “fundamentally flawed” meaning it can’t be recognized or resuscitated. The EU, which also provides more than $800 million condemned the violence and has called for member states to impose sanctions on the regime in a scathing statement on Feb. 11. 

The EU statement in part said “the run-up to the 2020 Ugandan presidential elections was marred by violence, with opposition candidates, civil society organizations (CSOs), human rights defenders, electoral experts and journalists facing systematic oppression and intimidation when exercising their legitimate rights,” and that “the excessive use of force by law enforcement and security agencies seriously tarnished the electoral process…”

Bobi Wine had earlier sought to amend his court challenge and file additional evidence, but the Museveni-appointed justices of the high court rejected the request.

A retired justice of the high court, Dr. George Wilson Kanyeihamba revealed in his book “The Blessings And Joy of being Who You Are,” revealed that when Dr. Kizza Besigye, a presidential contender under the umbrella of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) filed a petition challenging election “victory” by Gen. Museveni in 2001 and 2006, the state machinery of coercion pressured the high court judges. He noted in the book that there is an influential group both in the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) ruling party, and the high command of the army, who intimidated and bribed the justices of the Supreme Court.

Justice Kanyeihamba wrote that Justice Benjamin Odoki, and others, had been approached and given huge sums of money and other material favors in order to reverse their rulings in favor Dr. Besigye. Kanyeihamba said there was abundant evidence to prove his assertions.

In the opinion of many members of the legal fraternity in Uganda, the appointment of Justice Owinyi Dolo as the chief judge, and the other judges on the bench was based on their close connection with the ruling NRM establishment rather than their ability in administration of justice. It is a public secret that since Gen. Museveni appoints the judges, it would be insane for him to appoint anyone who would not legitimize his sham elections.

The court in an 8 to 1 vote had earlier denied Bobi Wine’s motion to file additional affidavits past the deadline. He had also demanded that the chief justice together with two other judges, Mike Chibita, and Ezekiel Muhanguzi, distance themselves from the case, since they have had unethical dealings with Gen. Museveni's government. Bobi Wine this weekend said he would withdraw his court challenge and take it to the public court, based on the alleged bias of the judges. 

Senior counsel Oscar Kihika, the director of the NRM’s legal affairs department over the weekend said that his party would ask Bobi Wine to pay all the expenses they incurred in preparation and responding to the election petition. “I hope his lawyers are advising him about this action of his because to withdraw the petition, there are specific provisions to be considered. So his casual remarks, if they are true, then they should realize that it is not a simple thing. So this decision has to be taken not lightly. Obviously if he withdraws, he can be rest assured that as lawyers for the respondents we shall go after Honorable Kyagulanyi for the costs if he chooses to take that course…” Kihika said.

The columnist kakwenza Rukirabashaija can be reached via kakwenzarukirabashaija@gmail.com 

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