THE FULL STORY: Chaos reigns in and out of Uganda Parliament as expected debate on motion on age limit removal is deferred
Kampala, Uganda | GODFREY SSALI | The much anticipated motion for MP Raphael Magyezi seeking leave of parliament to introduce a Private Member’s Bill to amend the constitution was not even on the Order Paper Thursday afternoon, but that did not diffuse tension that had been building all day.
Chaotic scenes in and outside Uganda’s parliament were relayed live on television, as opponents and supporters of proposed amendments to the constitution, dubbed the “Age Limit Motion” argued their cases, many times physically.
When it all settled down, Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah, amidst shouts of “order”, and singing by some, had two problems, that he resolved tactfully.
“There are two problems and they are big problems; one is that members are not ready to sit and the second problem is that the speaker is not ready to chair a parliament that does not want to sit. Therefore, this house is adjourned to Tuesday at 2:00 o’clock,” ruled Oulanyah.
Parliament therefore adjourned without debating the much anticipated notice of motion seeking absence of leave by Magyezi to introduce a constitutional amendment bill to lift the presidential age limit, among many other things.
Magyezi (Igara West,NRM) was expected to present a motion seeking leave of parliament to introduce an omnibus Private Member’s Bill to amend Articles 102 (b), 108(3a) and 108(4) in a move seen as a significant step towards securing a free run for President Yoweri Museveni to seek re-election in 2021.
The incumbent Museveni is 73-years-old and is, under the current constitution, ineligible to stand in 2021 when Uganda is scheduled to hold its next presidential and general elections
Speaker and Deputy resolve debate for next week
In his communication to the house the deputy speaker Oulanyah indicated that after a morning meeting with speaker Rebecca Kadaga, they came to a conclusion that the notice of motion be considered at a later stage.
Oulanya noted they cannot allow a matter for debate in parliament, outside the specified procedures because the Rules of Procedure require members to be informed in time to allow them to fully prepare and debate.
“This matter that is being intentioned is not here today and a proper process will handle it and a determination of what will happen to it will be made by the appropriate organ of this house,” said Oulanyah.
Leader of Opposition protests heavy security
The speaker’s communication was followed by a statement by the leader of opposition Winnie Kiiza (Kasese district) in which she protested the “heavy presence of security at parliament, arrests of political leaders and brutality against students at Makerere University.” (see protests video page 2)
Owing to the chaos that ensued preceding plenary, Kiiza asked the Deputy Speaker to adjourn the house to allow MPs absorb the shock associated with besieging parliament.
“I would request Right Honorable Speaker that you find it within your powers to adjourn the house to give members time to go and reflect on what has happened today, stated Kiiza, adding that “Parliament needs a working environment that is secure and free of intimidation, what is happening in the country should not be taken lightly.”