Uganda’s Supreme Court has ruled that National Unity Platform (NUP) leader Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine won’t pay costs to President Yoweri Museveni and other respondents for withdrawing his petition.
Bobi Wine had run to the Supreme Court challenging his election loss to incumbent Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni.
But he withdrew his petition, citing bias on the side of judges.
Today, the Supreme Court bench had convened to deliver its full judgement on why they okayed Bobi Wine’s decision to withdraw his petition.
Attorney General William Byaruhanga and Museveni’s legal team had argued for costs against Bobi Wine and his lawyers, not only because of their conduct (that the president’s legal team apparently believe borders on contempt of court), but also because Section 61 of the Presidential Elections Act, 2005 provides for costs (to be incurred by petitioners) for withdrawn petitions.
But in their ruling read by Justice Ezekiel Muhanguzi, the judges weighed access to justice against condemnation of petitioners — and the former carried the day.
“The word ‘shall as contained in the provisions of Section 61 of the Presidential Elections Act 2005 is a directory and not mandatory. Ordinarily, the petitioner would be ordered to pay costs of the petition to the respondents based on the general rule that costs follow the event,” ruled the Supreme Court bench.
“However, the need to promote access to justice in presidential election petitions overrides the need to condemn the applicants to payment of costs. Each party will pay their own costs.”