MP KYAGULANYI: I am here to defend the Uganda constitution
Kampala, Uganda| GODFREY SSALI | The newly elected Member of Parliament for Kyadondo East in Wakiso, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu alias Bobi Wine, has indicated he will fight any attempts to change the constitution.
“I have come to parliament at a very senstive time, a time where there is an impeding bill to lift the age limit for the presidency. I have just taken an oath to defend, preserve the constitution of Uganda and that will be my main goal right now,” he said soon after being sworn into the 10th Parliament.
He was responding to questions related to press reports that government is proposing a change in the age limit for the presidency.
The deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana, however dismissed the reports later in parliament, saying there are no such plans.
” There is a hullabaloo in the press about constitution amendment on age limit, but there is no such amendment. The only amendment that has been approved by cabinet is the Bill on compulsory acquisition of land for public use,” Rukutana said.
At the centre of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2017 gazetted on June 8, is what many beliveve to be a controversial amendment of Article 102(b), which disqualifies any Ugandan below 35 years and above 75 years from contesting the presidency.
Bobi Wine sworn in
Kyagulanyi’s oath earlier in the afternoon was administered in a session chaired by the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga.
After the declaration, by the Clerk to Parliament Jane Kibirige, confirming him as the duly elected Member of Parliament, Kyagulanyi was led into the chamber where he took oath and was handed a copy of the constitution and parliament rules of procedure.
Kadaga welcomed Kyagulanyi and urged him to serve the country irrespective of his political affiliation.
“Honourable Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu I congratulate you and welcome you to the 10th Parliament. Here is a copy of the rules of procedure and Constitution. Study them and they will guide you,” Kadaga said.
The deputy Attorney General and Rushenyi County (Ntungamo) Member of Parliament Mwesigwa Rukutana also congratulated Kyagulanyi and urged him to serve the country diligently.
“Honorable Speaker, I congratulate Kyagulanyi and I have no doubt that he will deliver. You know he is also my in-law having married Barbara Itungo from Ntungamo,” said Rukutana.
Addressing journalists after taking his oath, Ssentamu promised to defend the constitution at all times, starting with the proposed omnibus Constitution (Amendment) Bill, which reports indicate it contains a clause to remove the presidential age limit.
“A great responsibility has been put on my shoulder because i have come to parliament at a very sensitive moment when there is talk of lifting the age limit. Fighting this amendment will be my major goal,” said Kyagulanyi.
The excitement at Parliament
There was euphoria around parliament with heightened security as there was fear of Bobi Wine’s crowds overwhelming parliament. Inside parliament Bobi Wine was welcomed to the VIP Lounge .
He was accompanied by his wife Barbie Itungo, his brothers Eddy Yawe and Chairman Nyanzi, local artistes Nubian Lee, Dr.Hilderman among other family members who sat in the gallery.
At the podium, Kyagulanyi was escorted by a cross section of MPs including Latif Ssebagala Ssengendo (Kawempe North), the government chief whip Ruth Nankabirwa (Kiboga) Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West) , Betty Nambooze Bakireke (Mukono municipalty) and Lucy Achiro Otim (Aruu North).
After swearing in members were seen jostling to pull him to seat on their side. Being an independent MP, Kyagulanyi was asked to choose his preferred side of the House on which to sit, and he picked the opposition side.
The House has two sitting sides, the NRM side on the right of the Speaker and the opposition side on the left.
Currently, Independents sit on either side, somewhere towards the back side of the chambers. Parliament through the Rules of Parliamentary procedure have not yet designated a place for Independents.
The same scenario saw the “Rebel MPs” Theodore Sekikubo (Lwemiyaga), Muhammed Nsereko (Kampala Central), Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East) and Barnabas Tinkasiimire(Buyaga)o, getting accommodated in the middle in front of the Speaker’s Mace Table.
Kyagulanyi on Presidential Affairs Committee
The Independents chief whip also Kabale municipality member of parliament Andrew Aja Baryayanga on behalf of the speaker designated Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu on the sectoral committee on Presidential Affairs.
The Committee on Presidential Affairs is mandated by Parliament to oversee the activities and programmes of the following government departments and institutions: –
(i) Office of the President
(ii) State House
(iii) Office of the Vice President
(iv) Office of the Prime Minister
(v) Internal Security Organization and
(vi) External Security Organization
After his ceremony in Parliament, a mammoth crowd that was waiting outside escorted him back to Kasangati Saza Grounds for his victory party.