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Boycott if you want - Nyombi tells lawyers

Attorney General Peter Nyombi has scoffed at the Uganda Law Society, after the body threatened to boycott today's ceremonies to open the law year.

In a letter on Wednesday, ULS President Ruth Sebatindira urged lawyers to boycott the function in protest at President Museveni's failure to appoint a chief justice and deputy chief justice. But a defiant Nyombi told us on Wednesday that the function would go ahead with or without lawyers.

"Those who want to come will come; those who want to stay away, let them stay away but we shall go ahead with the function," Nyombi said.

Justice Steven Kavuma, who is acting both as chief justice and deputy chief justice, will preside at the ceremony at the High court in Kampala. The new law year is an annual meeting at which the judiciary states what it achieved the previous year and its targets in the new year. In the letter, Sebatindira decried the lack of substantive leadership in the judiciary.

"[It is my belief that we have to adopt a different approach as to how we support the judiciary on this matter."

At meeting in April 2014, Museveni told ULS that the positions would be filled once the constitutional petition challenging the reappointment of Benjamin Odoki as chief justice upon retirement was determined. Four months after that petition was disposed of, the president is yet to act.

Asked about the lack of a substantive chief justice, Nyombi said: "There is already an acting chief justice [Kavuma] who can perform all the functions."

However, Sebatindira says that the judiciary is being run ├Čunder scandalous├« circumstances.

"We can no longer walk with our heads high to assure the citizenry that all is well in the judiciary because, all is not well," she said.

Nicholas Opiyo, a former ULS secretary general, told The Observer that like last year, he would not attend the function to be presided over by Kavuma.

"I respect Justice Kavuma as a judge but I cannot call him the deputy chief justice or the chief justice because it is illegal as the Constitutional court ruled," he said.

Kavuma told The Observer he was too busy to comment on Sebatindira's letter.

dkiyonga@gmail.com

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