Elections in Uganda are carried out in accordance with the Electoral Commission Act Cap 140 and the Parliamentary Elections Act, 2001 (PEA) particularly guides the election process for Members of Parliament. Guidelines given by the electoral commission supplements the provisions of the Act.
The guiding principle in democratic states like Uganda is that elections should be fair and free. All procedures should be in accordance with the Electoral Commission Act; however, there are instances where an individual or group of individuals may feel that their rights to have a fair election have been violated and hence the need to petition Court.
Therefore, this Article provides the process to be undertaken where particular parliamentary candidates are not satisfied by the process, the election results, and the available remedies.
The procedure of filing this petition is provided under part x of the Parliamentary Elections Act.
A candidate who has lost an election or a concerned registered voter in a constituency with not less than 500 signatures can file a petition challenging the election results as provided under section 61 of the PEA.
Section 61(4) provides for the forum or the right Court, which is the High Court, and this should be filed within 30 days from the date the results are published in the gazette.
Grounds for setting aside election results.
The grounds for setting aside an election result are provided for under section 62 and these include;
Once the aggrieved person has any of the above grounds, a notice of the petition in writing accompanied by the petition is drafted and served on the respondent within seven days. In presenting these grounds, the burden is on the petitioner to prove the allegation on a balance of probabilities.
The matter is then heard expeditiously in open Court. After hearing the petition, Court may dismiss the petition, declare the aggrieved candidate to be validly elected, set aside the election and order a new one or an order a recount of votes.
However, the High Court is not granted power under this Act to convict a person of an illegal activity mentioned in a petition. This is a preserve of the Criminal Court.
A person who is aggrieved by the High Court decision may appeal to the Court of Appeal.