Ugandan MPs brawl in Parliament as attempts are made to pass controversial Bill

September 28, 2017 Africa , News , OPINION/NEWS , POLITICS

Reuters photo

 

By

Gloria Nakiyimba

 

Singing legislators paralyzed business in Uganda’s Parliament yesterday forcing the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to adjourn the house. Chairs were turned upside down as MPs engaged in fist fights in Parliament blocking the age limit debate for the second time in a week.

Work in the house kicked off normally with the Speaker asking opposition members of Parliament wearing red head bands to remove them because it contravened the decorum of the house. They all obliged and removed the bands.

Next the clerk to Parliament read the order paper and it emerged that a motion on the age limit debate had been included.

It was not clear whether or not the debate to scrap the age limit would take place on that day since it was missing on the order paper but suddenly it was there when Parliament sat in the afternoon.

Chaos started when Opposition legislators claimed members from the ruling NRM party had entered the parliamentary chambers with guns.

 

Kyandondo East Member of Parliament Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda accused State Minister for Water Resources Ronald Kibuule and the Mukono North legislator of smuggling a gun in the chambers and personally threatening his life.

“At 2 pm Honorable Kibuule warned me that today I will face death,” Nganda informed the speaker demanding a body search of all legislators before  deliberations.

“Honorable Kibuule came here with a gun. We request that we are searched. Hon Speaker, we can’t pretend that we are listening to the statement by the minister until we are searched,” he said.

As the Minister for Energy Irene Muloni presented a statement on the energy sector, opposition MPs started shouting demanding for the search and the gun, interrupting the minister forcing her to sit back.

Speaker Kadaga called for order but her calls fell on deaf ears as MPs from both sides engaged in fist fights, hurled chairs at each other leading to a chaotic scene in August House.

“Order, Order, honorable members can you please take your seats. Let us speak with our mouth not fists,” the Speaker stated in an attempt to control the house.

“We are here to represent our people, we are not here to be killed by Kibuule,” Ssemujju fired back at the Speaker who had refused to order a search of legislators.

Finally as tension continued to build up in the house Speaker Kadaga ordered the Sergeant at Arms to search the suspected area, but no gun was found.

 

It was after the search that Minister Muloni was allowed to present her statement uninterrupted. When Igara West MP Raphael Magezi was called to present the motion on scrapping the age limit from the Constitution, chaos erupted again. Magezi wants to seek leave from Parliament to draft an amendment Bill on Article 102(b) to remove the age limit from the Constitution.

At this moment all opposition MPs put their red ribbons and head bandanas back on as they opposed the motion wondering why it was being prioritized despite there being no other business on the order paper.

The opposition said the Bill seeks to entrench life presidency and seeks to benefit President Yoweri Museveni who is currently 72 and would not be able to stand again in the 2021 general election because he would be 75 years old if the Article 102(b) remains intact.

 

They started singing the first Stanza of the national anthem as the speaker called for order.

“Oh Uganda! May God uphold Thee, We lay our future in thy hand, United, free, For liberty, together we’ll always stand,” they kept singing in unison at the top of their voices while others were scene dancing in the most unprecedented dramatic manner.

Legislators from the ruling NRM party could be seen staring at their singing colleagues as business came to a halt.

This forced the Speaker to adjourn the session at around 7:30pm sending the opposition MPs into a celebratory mood singing and waving copies of the Ugandan Constitution.

“We’ve said no to Mr. Museveni’s machinations. I am ready die for this country; I am ready to die defending the Constitution” said MP Medard Lubega Ssegona, the Busiro East legislator.

Aruu County representative Samuel Odonga Otto noted that they are legislating on behalf of the people who voted for them and have not committed any illegality by defending the Constitution.

“We stand with (the) interest of the people. Today has been part of history; we are not going to relent. We have nothing to fear or worry about. It’s about the sanctity of our Constitution,” he said.

Kalungu West Member of Parliament Joseph Ssewungu appealed to the public to join the struggle to protect the Constitution from what he called ‘rape.’ He was seen holding a rosary saying he has been praying for the nation and the public should join him.

“This is a legitimate struggle, we shall not despair, we shall defend this Constitution, there is no illegality we are committing by defending the Constitution,” Ssewungu told the media last night.

 

 

Live Broadcast of parliamentary proceedings banned

 

The Uganda Communications Commission [UCC] has announced the banning of live broadcasts of parliamentary proceedings on radio and television. Godfrey Mutabazi, the executive director of the commission, claims the live broadcasts are inciting the public, discriminating, stirring up hatred, promoting a culture of violence among the viewers and are likely to create public insecurity or violence.

“The commission hereby directs all broadcasters to immediately stop and refrain from broadcasting live feeds which are in breach of the minimum broadcasting standards,” read part of the statement issued.

Mutabazi warned that UCC will not hesitate to carry our enforcement for non-compliance with the guidelines. He noted that any further breach will result in suspension and revocation of the license of the broadcasters.

 

 

Update

 

It was announced that Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has suspended 25 members of Parliament for the next three parliamentary sittings and asked them to leave the chambers immediately. Those suspended include State Minister for water resources Ronald Kibuule who was accused of smuggling a gun into the parliamentary chambers. Others are mainly opposition legislators. They are Allan Ssewanyana, Sam Lyomoki, Moses Kasibante, Betty Nambooze, Monica Amoding, Singer Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, Francis Zaake, Ibrahim Kasozi, Willian Nzohgu, Olanya, Odur, Odonga Otto, Nathan Nandala Mafabi, Muhamad Nsereko, Wilfred Niwagaba, Mubarak Munyaggwa, Nambeshe, Gaafa Mbwatekamwa, and Mugume.

Police and plain clothed security operatives stormed Parliament to force the suspended MPs out of the chambers after they refused to leave amid chaos. The security operatives from Special Forces Command dressed in suits wrestled with the suspended legislators who were later bundled into waiting police vehicles and whisked away.

 

 

 

 

Gloria Nakiyimba

Gloria has experience spanning more than five years in Journalism, particularly in field reporting, editing, newscasting and management. She is currently working with Capital Radio Limited [91.3 Capital FM and 96.3 Beat FM] as Head of News, a position she has held since 2010.

Gloria previously worked as the Kampala Correspondent for Radio France International [RFI] generating local story leads with international inference for RFI’s global audience. She also served as Political Editor for The Weekly Mail Newspaper as well as Online Content Editor for the California based Ugandan broadcaster KubutakaRadio.com.

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