Arusha, 3 April 2012: The Attorney General of the Republic of Uganda today asked the First Instance Division of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) to intervene in order to ensure elections are held on time for aspiring Ugandan Members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).
Responding in a reference where Uganda’s Democratic Party and one Mr. Fred Mukasa Mbidde are seeking the Court’s intervention to order Uganda to amend the rules for election of Members of the EALA, the Attorney General, represented by Ms. Christine Kaahwa and Mr. Phillip Mwaka, prayed that the EACJ “urgently” gives guidance to the Parliament of Uganda on this matter as time for elections is approaching fast, or considers the matter moot and dismisses it with costs. EALA Members are required to be elected by 15 April this year, before the next Assembly commences in June 2012.
The Democratic Party and Mr Mukasa Mbidde however argue the rules governing the elections should be brought into conformity with Article 50 of the EAC Treaty, and also want Court to order the Secretary General to supervise the same. Article 50 provides guidelines for the election of EALA Members.
The Uganda Attorney General had emphasized that there is progress in the process of the amendment of the rules as well as appendixes and had reasoned that this matter should have been handled administratively since the Democratic Party is in Parliament and is an active participant therein.
The counsel for the Applicant, Mr. Justin Semuyaba, however countered the Attorney General’s position insisting that the rules being contested are not yet amended in law, as the process alone does not amount to amendment.
He prayed the Court not to consider the reference moot or premature, saying it would be unfair considering the Court already found, in a previous successful application for an injunction in the same matter, that the grounds upon which the reference is based “are neither frivolous nor vexatious”.
The Court last year granted orders restraining and prohibiting EALA, the Attorney General and the Parliament of Uganda from conducting and carrying out any elections until it determines the case.
Mr. Semuyaba added that the Applicants do not want to see the phrase “numerical strength of the political party” in the rules as this in their view infringes the EAC Treaty and locks other political parties out of the EALA race. He therefore requested the Court to guide the parties on how to go about Article 50 of the Treaty and the EALA elections and grant orders as sought, with costs.
Judges Hon. Mr. Justice Johnston Busingye, Hon. Lady Justice Mary Stella Arach Amoko, Hon. Mr. Justice John Mkwawa, Hon. Mr. Justice Jean Bosco Butasi and Hon. Mr. Justice Isaack Lenaola who heard the case said they would consult and deliver judgment.
About the EACJ
The East African Court of Justice (EACJ or the Court), is the judicial arm of the East African Community established under Article 9 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community.
Operationalized in November 2001, the Court’s major responsibility is to ensure the adherence to law in the interpretation and application of and compliance with the EAC Treaty.
Arusha is the temporary seat of the Court until the Summit determines its permanent seat. The High Courts of the Partner States serve as sub-registries.
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