Justices of the Constitutional Court have blasted opposition strongman and Forum for Democratic Change’s Dr.Kizza Besigye for swearing himself in as a president of the country and thereafter seeking justice in the courts that he believed were not legitimate.
Following his arrest in 2011 during the Walk to Work protests, Besigye went to the court seeking for declarations that the charge of unlawful assembly in the Penal Code was unlawful since it contravenes articles 21, 27, 29 and 43 of the 1995 Constitution and are frequently used by the police to deny him the full enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms.
So he wanted court to declare that his arrests and subsequent prosecutions were unconstitutional because they were based on what he termed as “unconstitutional charges” in the Penal Code.
But on Thursday, justices including Kenneth Kakuru, Geoffrey Kiryabwire, Elizabeth Musoke, Cheborion Barishaki and Stephen Musota adopted a different tone and gave Besigye their piece of mind.
The justices said it was hypocritical for Besigye who lost the 2016 elections and swore himself in as the elected president of Uganda to turn to the same courts who are part of the legitimately constituted government led by President Museveni.
“In 2016, he again lost to President Museveni but he didn’t challenge the election. However, another presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi did and the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the petition and confirmed the results of that election. The petitioner (Besigye) however chose to reject the decision of the Supreme Court,” the justices said in a majority judgment written by Kakuru.
They added: “He publicly declared and has done so ever since 2016 that the election of that year was a sham and that it didn’t reflect the will of the people of Uganda. The petitioner on May, 11, 2016 swore himself in as president of Uganda.”
Justice Kakuru who wrote the judgment on behalf of other judges said clips that made rounds on social media showed Besigye clad in a suit swearing-in during what they termed as a sham ceremony , adding that he went on to appoint his own government and national assembly.
He also blasted Besigye for launching his Tubalemese campaign to facilitate establishment of a “legitimate” national assembly adding that it was wrong for the opposition strongman to insist that he won the 2016 polls with 52% and that he was blocked from proving his victory in court.
He said it was therefore wrong for the same Besigye to run to court seeking to declare that his arrests and prosecution were unlawful.
“In the petition, the petitioner seeks to hold accountable a government that he considers illegitimate by invoking powers of a court appointed under such a government. He cannot do so. It is an exercise in futility,” Justice Kakuru said.
He noted that by swearing himself as president an appointing his own national assembly, Besigye was acting in contempt of the Supreme Court that had declared that Museveni was rightly elected as president of Uganda.
“Every court has a right to deny audience to any person found guilty of contempt. He or she may not be heard or granted any remedy until he purges himself to that contempt.”
“I would therefore decline to grant the remedies that he seeks in the petition. Maybe he will have to seek audience before his own court or before the “judge” who swore him in as president,”Justice Kakuru said.