The runner-up in the 2021 presidential election, Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine has asked the Supreme Court not to subject him to costs for withdrawing his petition challenging President Museveni’s election.
On Friday, the Supreme Court allowed Kyagulanyi’s application to withdraw the 2021 presidential election petition but the justices said they would give a detailed ruling plus an order for costs later.
However, Section 61 of the Presidential Elections Act, 2005 stipulates that ff a petition is withdrawn the petitioner shall be liable to pay the costs of the respondent.
In this case, Kyagulanyi is liable to pay costs to Museveni, the Electoral Commission and the Attorney General’s lawyers on behalf of the three respondents.
On Friday, Kyagulanyi’s lawyers led by Medard Sseggona told court that it would be unfair to condemn him to costs for having withdrawn the petition, noting that the court should be considerate to him.
Sseggona said that whereas the law stipulates that on withdrawing a petition one is supposed to be condemned to costs, doing so would discourage many people to lodge applications following presidential elections.
“A petition of this nature is important in guaranteeing democracy and rule of law for Ugandans. Persons aggrieved and dissatisfied by the presidential election outcome should find the mood smooth to access courts of law as the final and ultimate target,”Sseggona said.
“Only that Ugandans shall be safe and tranquility guaranteed. This court has got the occasion to consider issues of election petitions and costs in the previous three presidential elections. The person bringing a petition should not be scared of costs should then withdraw the petition.’
Kyagulanyi’s lawyers told court that deterring a person from accessing court for fear of paying costs might have its own catastrophic consequences that he said ought to be avoided since an election petition is not a personal matter but rather one that touches the leadership of the country.
“It is not a personal matter and it is the reason a person is not at liberty to simply withdraw but after applying to court. The first respondent has already been declared a successful participant in the election and declared to be president of the Republic of Uganda. What more would such a person require from a citizen who has challenged him peacefully, democratically and constitutionally. It would be unfair to gift such a person with costs from a citizen that has challenged his election.”
The lawyers asked court to direct that each party should bear its own costs in the case.
Speaking in response, all the lawyers representing the three respondents told court that it is stipulated in the law that any person who withdraws a presidential election petition ought to be condemned to costs, a law they said ought to be applied in this case.
The panel of nine justices of the Supreme Court led however said they would give an order in regards to costs in the detailed ruling that is to be delivered on notice.
“The reasons and determination of costs shall be contained in ruling to be delivered on notice. This ruling is signed by all members of the quorum,” Justice Stella Amoko Arach who read the ruling on behalf of the other justices of the Supreme Court said.