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Uganda: Ssempa claims governmental conspiracy after anti-gay law overturned

Ashley Chhibber August 4, 2014

Notorious anti-gay pastor Martin Ssempa has suggested that governmental pressure may have led to a disregard for procedure in the recent overturning of Uganda’s harsh anti-gay law, and said he will appeal the ruling at Uganda’s Supreme Court.

He particularly implied President Museveni’s involvement, posing the rhetorical question, “Is there a possibility that the President travelling to Washington next week could have been the reason why this particular case was hurried at lightning speed?”

Last week, Uganda’s Constitutional Court struck down the Anti-Homosexuality Act after only two days of deliberation, on the grounds that it had been passed without a parliamentary quorum.

Activists and others celebrated the judgement, including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

However, further revelations as to the unusually speedy resolution of the case have led Ssempa to suggest that President Museveni pushed for the law to be overturned for diplomatic reasons.

He said: “We are aware that the registrar of this court had scheduled that this case would be discussed and started in September. We wonder what happened all of a sudden that a case that was supposed to be for September was taken on with lightning speed.”

The change in date was apparently so sudden that it led Principal State Attorney Patricia Mutesi to declare that the office of the attorney general was “not ready” and so would not be guaranteed “a fair hearing”. Judges dismissed her objections.

Ssempa continued: “We also wonder why the conservative religious judges who we know are loving of the family, like Justice Remy Kasule and others, were not included in the bench. We just wonder if indeed our country is independent, and we want to ask the parliament to investigate the independence of the judiciary.”

President Museveni, who will attend President Obama’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit this week, denied claims of political involvement, saying, “It has nothing to do with us going to Washington.”

Ssempa also suggested that the Constitutional Court had disregarded due procedure. He said: “We have never had a case which has been had on Tuesday and disposed of by Thursday morning. The evidence that was asked for, to prove if indeed there was a quorum, has not been proven.”

Justice Mwangusya, one of the bench of five who ruled on the case, said in his judgement that the Commissioner of Civil Litigation had not denied allegations about the lack of quorum in his response to the initial petition, and explained: “In that case, we apply the Civil Procedure Act, which states that if an allegation is not denied by the respondent, it’s admitted as a fact.”

Ssempa will nevertheless aim to reinstate the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. He said: “We want to join with the Attorney General to appeal this to the Supreme Court. This decision is a legal travesty. It is an insult to all family-culture-loving people in Uganda.”

More: Africa, anti-gay laws, anti-homosexuality act, Homophobia, legal challenge, Martin Ssempa, pastor, President Museveni, Uganda

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