The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, was Wednesday forced to prematurely adjourn House proceedings to Tuesday next week after MPs failed to agree on whether to debate a government report on security.
The report, read by Security Minister Gen Elly Tumwine, was jointly authored by Ministries of Internal Affairs, Defense and Security.
It was government’s version of what transpired before, during and after the chaotic by-elections in Arua Municipality to replace slain MP Ibrahim Abiriga.
MPs insisted that a report by a select Committee of Parliament chaired by MP Doreen Amule (NRM, Amolatar), tasked to investigate the violence and arrest of a host of MPs, be presented first.
MPs mainly from the opposition said Gen Tumwine’s report should be debated side by side with that of Parliament’s Select Committee.
Oulanyah said much as the report by Parliament’s Select Committee may already be on MPs’ iPads; it is not ready for debate.
“If I say that report is not ready, I know what I am saying. The report may be uploaded, but I know it is not ready. Is it signed by the Chairperson [Amule]?” said Oulanyah.
The Leader of the Opposition, Betty Aol, said the House should give priority to the Select Committee’s report.
“That [Committee] report is the one which was sanctioned. We should rely on the report of the Committee sent to Gulu. If the report is not ready, we cannot proceed,” said Aol.
MP Amule said “the [Select Committee] report is not ready. Personally, I am not ready and there are things the Clerk assigned to the Committee has to answer to me.”
Oulanyah condemns violence
In his communication to legislators, Oulanyah, who earlier in the day visited MPs Robert Kyagulanyi (IND, Kyaddondo East) and Francis Zaake (IND, Mityana Municipality) said leaders should exercise restraint and avoid inciting crowds.
“It is really sad that things happened in Arua the way they did; the president’s convoy was hit and he was in it. How badly could it have been had his security responded with fire? It could have been worse,” said Oulanyah.
He added: “Do we have to make elections this violent? Do we have to make it a do or die situation? As leaders, should these things be happening in our presence?”
MP Zaake is in Lubaga Hospital, while Kyagulanyi is being held by the army at Makindye Military Barracks.
Oulanyah said contrary to social media reports, MP Kyagulanyi is doing well, but that Zaake needs to go for treatment abroad as he is being treated for “post-traumatic stress”.
In the joint statement, government blamed the chaos on the jailed MPs and their supporters.
“Had it not been for the unruly and illegal causative conduct of the MPs and their supporters, it would never have happened,” said Gen Tumwine.
MPs Gerald Karuhanga (IND, Ntungamo Municipality), Paul Mwiru (FDC, Jinja Municipality East) and MP elect Kassiano Wadri are in jail together with hundreds of their supporters.
They stand accused of incitement of violence, treason among a myriad of other charges.
Their arrest ensued in the aftermath of the violence-laced Arua Municipality by-elections, where Wadri defeated both the ruling National Resistance Movement candidate Nusura Tiperu and others fronted by the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Democratic Party (DP) and a host of other independents.
There have been allegations of torture levelled against the army, but in a statement, UPDF Spokesperson, Brig Richard Karemire, denied any wrongdoing.
Karemire, however, acknowledged maltreatment of some street protestors and vowed punitive action.
President Yoweri Museveni maintains the arrested MPs must suffer charges relating to treason, saying there have been tendencies of violence by opposition elements during by-elections.
In a post on his Facebook page, Museveni described MP Kyagulanyi as “our indisciplined grandson”, who he said must face the law.