The Chief Justice, Alfonse Owiny Dollo has declined to recuse himself from hearing the 2021 election petition filed before the Supreme Court by National Unity Platform leader, Robert Kyagulanyi also known as Bobi Wine against President Museveni’s victory.
Lawyer Male Mabirizi wrote to the Chief Justice, Alfonse Owiny- Dollo asking him to recuse himself from the election petition Kyagulanyi since he was a lawyer representing President Museveni in a similar election petition by Dr.Kizza Besigye in 2006 challenging Museveni’s victory and that would present a conflict of interest.
On Tuesday morning, after listening to Mabirizi’s arguments, Dollo declined to excuse himself from the matter.
“I have listened carefully to the submissions of the applicant well-argued but for reasons I will give in my detailed ruling to be delivered on notice, I decline to recuse. I find no merit in the application,”Dollo said on Tuesday.
Dollo not fit to hear Bobi Wine petition
In his arguments, lawyer Mabirizi said that the Chief Justice is not qualified to sit on the panel of nine justices of the Supreme Court to hear Kyagulanyi’s petition because of the first assignments he did for President Museveni in the 2006 election petition as one of his lawyers.
“He will not be impartial in this petition because he was his advocate in the 2006 petition. The concern is that he has some background information he acquired in 2006 and this cant allow him be in this case. Any reasonable person cannot allow a person sitting as a former lawyer to try his former client,”Mabirizi told the court.
According to Mabirizi, Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo who is leading the panel of nine judges to hear Kyagulanyi’s petition has consistently met President Museveni and it is public knowledge of the same, adding that the public has lost confidence in him deciding the petition impartially.
“Judges might be independent but we mind about is the public perception. The public has information of him going to President Museveni and that he was once his lawyer. Any layman will say no to him(Dollo) hearing the petition.”
The panel of judges however interjected and asked the lawyer to convince them that the Chief Justice visited President Museveni in a private visit or it was a matter concerning the judiciary.
In his defence, Mabirizi noted that whether the visit was public or private, it doesn’t matter.
“It doesn’t matter whether it was private or public but the perception of the public is different,” he said.
“I have no doubt in your handling of the case independently but this is a fragile system that any mistake can break.”
The development comes barely a day after Robert Kyagulanyi announced withdrawing his 2021 election petition challenging President Museveni’s victory after citing bias by the Supreme Court judges.
He is however yet to formally file an application to withdraw the petition.