Kampala, Uganda | URN | A cross-section of Members of Parliament are calling for stringent measures to curb possible attacks by strangers when the house is in session. The proposals follow an incident in which two members of the Red Top Brigade Movement attacked parliament from the stranger’s gallery on Wednesday 19th February, 2020.
The strangers, later identified as Charles Mutaasa Kafeero and Darfala Ssekanjako jumped into the Chamber from the gallery and disrupted parliament business as MPs debated a ministerial statement on the Land Information Systems Conference.
The two, upon jumping into the chamber, started shouting claiming that corruption stems from Parliament and that the House did not have the moral authority to debate or say anything against the vice. In the process, legislators started scampering for their safety.
They were later arrested by the police and Sergeant-At-Arms and escorted out of the Chamber to the Central Police Station. Although no one was hurt in the incident, a glass cover of one of the fluorescent lights was damaged as the strangers jumped into the Chamber, a noise that had been mistaken for gunshots.
In the aftermath, Parliament beefed up its security checks. But several MPs want Parliament to come up with strategies to ensure that such an incident does not happen again.
Nwoya County MP Simon Oyet says Parliament should borrow from courtrooms that have glass screens to protect witnesses from anyone who would wish to attack them. He observes a need to have a live TV link to allow strangers to watch parliamentary proceeding on a screen from a space where they can also be monitored by MPs.
In 2004, the United Kingdom introduced a glass screen in the gallery for the House of Commons to separate strangers and the members of Parliament. The glass helps to prevent the throwing of objects into the chamber but also to thwart any form of attacks against a member.
Nyabushozi County MP Fred Mwesigye says that security in Parliament is lax, adding that everyone can access parliament now as it stands. However, he observes a need to tighten security and protect members from attacks. He says Parliament should be limited to only those with business.
Bukooli North MP Gaster Mugoya Kyawa says that some Parliaments in the world have special places for members to watch the proceedings of Parliament, an example that should be followed by the Ugandan Parliament to make the house safe for members.
Maracha East MP James Acidri who was speaking when the chaos started says there is a need to rethink the security in Parliament.
Kaberamaido Woman MP Veronica Eragu Bichetero says that the incident should be an eye-opener for Parliament to continuously tighten its security, and effectively screen people who visit especially when legislators are in session. She says the people who stormed Parliament had properly cleared themselves through the system.
Flavia Byekwaso, a UPDF representative in Parliament says even the tightest security is usually penetrated adding that it might not be very easy to detect people who come in innocently.