JINJA/BUGIRI- Jinja High Court has dismissed with costs a petition that sought to halt nominations in Bugiri Municipality.
Mr Saul Baliraine who has been the Bugiri Town Council Mayor and fourteen others had petitioned Court to stop the nominations and subsequent elections in the newly created Municipality, arguing that since the Town Council constitutes a bigger part of the Municipality, there was no need to conduct fresh elections yet those who had been elected were meant to complete their tenure of five years.
Consequently, last Friday, Justice Luswata issued an order restraining the EC from organizing elections in Bugiri until Mr Baliraine’s petition is disposed of.
“An order is issued restraining the respondent (the EC), their agents, servants, or representatives from organizing or conducting nominations and or elections for Bugiri Municipality and other administrative units falling under it until Misc. Application No. 138/2018 (Baliraine’s petition) is heard and disposed of by the learned Registrar on Monday, June 4, 2018,” the Restraint Order reads.
This Order put on hold the nomination exercise that was supposed to kick off on Monday until Wednesday.
In a ruling read by the deputy registrar, Jesse Byaruhanga, Mr Baliraine’s petition was thrown out, paving way for nominations to start today (Wednesday).
Court ruled that the petitioner did not provide convincing reasons to stop the nominations and elections in this (new) Municipality and ordered the petitioner to pay costs to the EC.
Mr Byaruhanga said there was no need to issue an interim order because their guidelines for operationalization of the new Municipality and the applicant did not seek clarification from the Ministry of Local Government and the District.
“The Applicants failed to show Court that there is a threat on their seats and it is not also clear whether Bugiri was annexed to other geographical places or not,’’ Mr Byaruhanga read.
Mr Orono Emmanuel of M/S Byamugisha, Lubega, Ochieng and Company Advocates, the Applicants’ lawyer, said they will continue with the main case because they want Court to either rule whether they continue with their term or are compensated.
Speaking to Journalists after the ruling, the defense (EC) lawyer, Mr Patrick Wetaka, argued that if someone has been representing a small area and has been elevated to an area of high jurisdiction, one cannot be automatically elevated because different electoral areas call for different qualifications.
“When Bugiri Town Council was elevated to a Municipality, the area was reduced in the same geographically and they can’t remain as elected councilors in both the new and old areas and must choose one,” he said.
Immediately after the ruling, the Bugiri District EC Registrar, Ms Christine Fiona Kunihira, told Daily Monitor that nominations had kicked off in earnest.
“I am in the middle of nominations and can’t talk much now,” she said.
Opposition candidates vying for the Bugiri Municipality MP seat include; Asuman Basalirwa (JEEMA), Ms Eunice Namatende aka ‘Manda Mayaka’ (FDC) who were set for nominations by press time.
The NRM deputy EC chairperson, John Kigyagi Arimpa, on Monday declared John Francis Oketcho as the Bugiri Municipality NRM party flag bearer with 2,496 votes defeating former Bugiri district LCV boss, Hajji Siraji Lyavala Samanya (1,176 votes) and Hamza Evuga (328 votes).
The parliamentary and mayoral elections in Bugiri Municipality are set for July 10 and candidates were still picking nomination forms to contest for this seat by last evening.