Is Uganda’s Judiciary Really Independent?

Ever Since Dr. Kizza Besigye Started Contesting For Presidency With Museveni In 2001, He Took Museveni To Court That Since Ordered For Electoral Reforms Among Which Was To Remove Constitutional Powers Of Appointing Electoral Commissioners And Justices Who Handle Electoral Process.

Uganda Today: According to the Ugandan Constitution that was promulgated in 1995, and has since been ammended twice to remove the term and the age limits  in 2005 and 2017  respectively, the power of appointing the Chief Justice is vested under the Presidency.

Having realised the conflict of interest which is naturally exhibited by a sitting president who  may harbour intentions to vie for the same seat in the coming elections, in 2001, basing on Dr. Kizza Besigye’s petition, Court ordered the government to debate and institute an array of electoral reforms among which appointments of electoral commisioners was salient.

Opposition Presented The Following Reforms Among Others

  1. Remove the powers of appointing electoral  commissioners from the president.
  2. Remove powers of appointing the Chief Justice and Judges from the president.
  3. A sitting president with intentions of running in the next  presidential elections to vacate office at least 6 months prior to the date of elections.
  4. Remove direct involvement of security forces from the electoral process by constituting an independent electoral police.
  5. Remove the 10 army representatives from parliament because the army is supposed to be apolitical.
    2019, Ugandan military men surrounding Annah Ashaba as she resisted arrest during protests against Makerere University fees hike. The protests were dubbed “fees must fall”
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    Photo credit: Alex Isagala

The government ignored all these and has since 2001, been pushing for general presidential elections with glaring biasness of the sitting president who has,  on all the 6 occasions, been declared the winner amidst prostetions from opposition who have dragged the president to court on all the occasions.

All the mischiefs that were envisaged by the court to be guarded against in the first presidential petition of 2001, have uncontrollably manifested in all the subsequent presidential elections because, the sitting president  has selflessly exhibited obscurantism to manipulate the entire electoral process.

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The Chief Justice is appointed by the President. The President has the authority to appoint the Chief Justice, subject to confirmation by the Parliament. The appointment process involves nomination by the Judicial Service Commission, and once nominated, the President presents the nominee to Parliament for approval.

The president apparently has control over parliament not only because the Speaker and the deputy Speakers have all been appointed from his rulinng party that overwhelmingly outwit the opposition on any contentious  matter that requires a parliamentary vote, but also orders his party  parliamentary caucus to do whatever he wants parliament to pass.

Opposition in Uganda has severally accused President Museveni for promoting unprecedented impunity. In the picture, General Muhoozi Keinerugaba is seen in a full blown campaign rally organised in Bukedea by the Speaker of Parliament who doubles as the woman representative for Bukedea district.
Ugandan constitution bars serving army officers to participate in partisan politics. The very reason argument against President Museveni’s maintainance of army representatives in Parliament has always been cited as an issue which must be revoked in the much needed electoral reforms ordered by court since 2001.

For instance when the president applied the strategy of “the end justifies the means” so as to amend the constitution on the two afore mentioned occasions, colonel Bogere in 2005, who disobeyed his Commander in Chief (the president) to vote against the lifting of the term limit, was summarily forced to resign and hence vacated his seat in parliament. His replacement was effected immediately.

With that precedent,  no other parliamentary army representative has ever dared to go against their Commander in Chief’s  pronounced aspirations.

It is therefore no wonder that on the two most contetious occasions of removal of term and age caps from the country’s constitution, where foreigners who desire to see democracy take root in Uganda suggested to offer President Museveni the post of UN Secretary General, in lieu of him ceding presidency, which he, scornfully rejected, with remarks “me, Museveni, the president of Uganda to retire and take on employment by any body, it cannot happen,  when i retire i can only be employed by God”. (Voice byte to these remarks are an introductory remark of a local radio Impact FM political programmme every Friday ).

The last court petion against the president in 2021, which was midway withdrawn by the petitioner Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, cited the Chief Justices’ open hobnobbing with the accused president.

Indeed the Chief Justice in order to please his master, akwardly created bad blood between him and Justice Kisaakye who wanted to deliver a dessenting judgement in favour of the petitioner. Her judgement was publically removed from her and sound system dismatled in an onset of a show of unjustfified bias stance from the Chief Justice towards Justice Kisaakye which is still raging with culmination of the president’s  rejection of her resignation despite the long deprivation of several benefits and emoluments accorded to a Supreme Court Judge.


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Chris Kato

Uganda Today is a source of analytical, hard and entertaining news for audiences of all categories in Uganda and internationally. Uganda Today cut its teeth in Ugandan media industry with its print copies hitting the streets in October 2014. We are heavily indebted to all our publics and stakeholders who support our cause in one way or the other. To comment on our stories, or share any news or pertinent information, please follow us on: Facebook: Uganda Today Twitter: @ugtodaynews WhatsApp:+256 702 239 337 Email: Website:

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