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Why the Hell are you Befriending the Court

On March 12, 2016, I joined eight other Makerere Law School dons in filing an amicus curiae (friend-of-the-court) application in the presidential election petition brought by John Patrick Amama Mbabazi (JPAM).  Mbabazi was the third-place finisher in the poll, garnering 1.3 percent of the final tally after incumbent Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (60.6%) and runner-up Kizza Besigye (35.6%).  When the news of the amicus application was announced, I received a call from a long-time colleague and friend: “What the hell are you doing befriending the court: Don’t you have enough enemies already?,” she asked me.

My friend’s reaction may have been extreme, but it was by no means exceptional.  When the Supreme Court accepted our amicus application, the reaction of Ugandans from all walks of life ranged from hope, to confusion, to disdain, to delusion.  Among the many views proffered about our action were the following:

+ Now that we had become “friends of the court,” our views would favourably (and conclusively) determine the outcome of the petition (as in… we hope you are “friends of Amama”);

+ By filing the petition we had “legitimized” the 2016 sham election and provided a veneer of legal authority and expertise to a fundamentally flawed political process (as in… we were really “friends of M7”); 

+ My Political Science colleagues cryptically reminded me: Politics always trumps Law!  Engaging with the Supreme Court was thus a waste of time because the result was a foregone conclusion (which would make us “friends-of-nobody”).

Details in the documents Attached below