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Uganda Opposition Leader Bobi Wine Accuses Court of Bias, Withdraws Election Petition

Ugandan opposition figure Bobi Wine, whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, speaks at a press conference in Kampala, Feb. 22, 2021.

Ugandan opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi, better known by his stage name Bobi Wine, says he will withdraw his petition at the Supreme Court challenging January's re-election of President Yoweri Museveni. Wine alleged bias in the court toward Museveni, who has ruled Uganda since 1986, and said his side was not being allowed to present evidence of fraud in the vote.

In announcing his decision Monday, Wine said authorities had blocked his attempt to present a case, citing the police lockdown of his party’s offices, and the military denying access to his lawyers and officials of his National Unity Platform party.

He also accused the Supreme Court of rejecting as many as 200 affidavits.

Wine said this is a sign the judiciary does not intend to serve justice in the matter and they would not participate in what he called mockery to justice.

“The Supreme Court said, we could only submit, in this our petition, for 30 minutes. Now, that was clear, one, the Supreme Court did not want this matter to attract so much attention. So, for that matter, for the reasons we’ve given above, we have decided to withdraw from their court. The courts are not independent; it’s clear that these people are working for Mr. Museveni,” he said.

Through his lawyers, Wine filed the petition February 1st seeking to nullify the election that saw President Museveni win a sixth term with 58 percent of the votes.

They also asked the court to ensure that Museveni can never run again in an election, accusing him of orchestrating violence, using soldiers to pre-tick ballots and invade polling stations.

Jameson Karemani, the court registrar, said the court is not bothered by Wine’s allegations of favoritism.

He said once the court receives the application to withdraw the petition, judges will decide on the matter, but it will be conditional.

“Conditional in the sense that, you filed a petition and served it on other parties, the parties had to go out of their way to prepare themselves for your petition. Now you have withdrawn it; they have incurred costs. So, the condition may be for you to be asked to pay the costs,” said Karemani.

Last week, President Museveni, the electoral commission and the attorney general, filed a total of 185 affidavits in response to the 53 grounds raised by NUP lawyers.

Oscar Kihika, Museveni’s lawyer, said officials will wait for Wine’s application.

“He’s made the announcement; we have heard it. What for us we do as the legal team on the other side is to wait for the application to be filed and served on us as required by the law,” said the lawyer.

Wine said the matter will now be presented before what he calls the people’s court, meaning the court of public opinion.