Uganda’s opposition boycott parliament until suspended colleagues return

Uganda's opposition boycott parliament until suspended colleagues return
Ugandan opposition lawmakers fight with plain-clothes security personnel in the parliament while protesting a proposed age limit amendment bill debate. Courtesy Photo.

The Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Winnie Kiiza, has announced that the opposition will boycott three parliament sessions, in solidarity with their colleagues who were suspended on Wednesday.

The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga on Wednesday suspended 25 members of Parliament for instigating chaos which led to the suspension of the plenary proceedings on Tuesday.

Security forces on Wednesday afternoon stormed into parliament as the House descended into unprecedented chaos after the suspended MPs defied Speaker Kadaga’s directive to leave.

At the time the security forces raided the House, fighting had broken out. Chairs and microphones were broken and turned into weapons as the House turned against itself.

The security violently removed opposition MPs from the House, with some sustaining injuries in the process, and detained them at various police stations in and around Kampala Metropolitan area.

Those suspended include Allan Sewanyana, Monica Amoding, Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi, Nathan Nandala Mafabi, Betty Nambooze, Mohammad Nsereko, Mubarak Munyagwa, Dr Sam Lyomoki, Barnabas Tinkasimire, Francis Zaake, Gilbert Olanya, Ojur Jonathan, Moses Kasibante, Ibrahim Kasozi, Angelline Osegge and William Nzoghu.

Others are Roland Mugume, Muwanga Kivumbi, Wilfred Niwagaba, Joseph Sewungu, Mbwatekamwa Gaffa and John Baptist Nambetsye.

Also suspended is Mukono North MP, also Water State Minister Ronald Kibuule, whose possession of a gun inside Parliament was confirmed by the Speaker. It is this issue pointed out by opposition MPs on Tuesday that sparked off the fights later forcing Kadaga to adjourn the House amidst chaos.

Opposition MPs had, since Thursday last week, resorted to violence and disruption to block presentation of a motion pushing for the amendment of Article 102 (b) of the constitution to lift the cap on the presidential age.

Kadaga announced the suspensions saying they had breached Rule 74 of the rules of procedure of Parliament and ordered all of them to move out of the Chambers.

The rule requires all members to enter and leave the House with dignity. It prohibits them from crossing the floor of Parliament or move around unnecessarily.

The same rule requires other MPs to be silent and not make unseemly interruptions while another MP is speaking. It in the same way requires a member to resume their seat as soon as they are done with their presentation in the house.

The remaining members of the opposition later walked out of the House, led by LOP Kiiza. They have today stayed away from plenary sitting in solidarity with their suspended colleagues. Kiiza says they will not attend the plenary sessions for three weeks, which is also the duration the MPs have been suspended.

Kiiza says they will use this time to think and strategise to deliver the country from what she called the hands of President Museveni.

Earlier today, Kiiza held a meeting with the suspended MPs at Hotel Africana, shortly before the MPs moved to different police stations around Kampala where they had been summoned.

The opposition Chief whip Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda said after their suspension and arrest on Wednesday, they were released on police bond and required to report to the CID Commissioner.