Uganda tourism relieved: Supreme Court throws out presidential election petition

The Uganda Supreme Court just now rendered its verdict over the petition before it, where one of the losing candidates for the office of the president had challenged the election of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

While observing some logistical shortcomings and noting some non-compliance vis-a-vis the Presidential Election Act in the February 18 General Election, the full nine-member Supreme Court of Uganda has, however, broadly dismissed the various challenges brought before them in the petition.

As a legal requirement, a decision had to be handed down by March 31 and the Supreme Court, following several weeks of night shifts by the justices and law clerks, met the deadline when throwing out the petition.

Chief Justice Bart Katureebe read out the compressed judgement, saying more extensive reasons and explanations will be given in the full written verdict which should be available for the public soon.

Subsequently, President Museveni’s office and other bodies are now preparing for the swearing in ceremony after which “M7,” as he is affectionately called by his supporters, will commence his final term of office. The current constitution age bars him from standing again in 2021.

Uganda’s tourism industry had experienced a significant downturn of arrivals prior to and after the elections, to a large part attributed to the thinly-concealed threats of taking protests to the streets, a recipe to scare away much-needed tourists and have them spend their tourist dollars elsewhere.

Uganda’s tourism stakeholders have shown immediate relief that the petition decision is now out and several have expressed their hope that the opposition will refrain from taking their grievances to the streets, renew their “Walk to Work” protests, and withdraw calls not to go to work at all every Thursday.

In summary, the opposition taking their case to court is evidence that they, no matter individual utterings, have confidence in the legal system and the division of powers and that is the way forward. Leave the streets for traffic – which is bad enough as it is in Kampala – and find the right platform for political debate, all under the premise that everyone, every Ugandan, wants peace, stability, and economic progress, no matter the party colors.