Protesters jump into chamber, disrupt debate in Ugandan Parliament

Thursday February 20 2020

Protesters disrupt parliamentary proceedings in Uganda.

A screen grab of a video shows MPs getting hold of one of the protesters who disrupted parliamentary proceedings in Uganda on February 19, 2020. PHOTO | COURTESY | NTV UGANDA 

CHARLES M. MPAGI
By CHARLES M. MPAGI
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Protesters disrupted debate in Uganda’s Parliament Wednesday afternoon after they jumped into the chamber from the visitors’ gallery, causing chaos in the House.

The House was debating a Ministerial Policy Statement on an International Land Information Management System due to open in Entebbe on Thursday when the jumpers caused business to come to a standstill.

The two protesters, identified as Datala Ssenjako and Charles Mutasa Kafeero, have been arrested. Police say they will be charged in court.

According to Sam Obbo, Press Secretary to Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, in the process of jumping the men shouted that corruption stemmed mainly from Parliament.

“Preliminary investigations by the police show that the duo had ulterior motives,” added Obbo.

The Parliamentary proceedings were being broadcast live on some commercial TV stations when the incident happened. During the fall, the men are said to have damaged some glass railings and fluorescent tubes, “which sparked off a noise that was mistaken for gunshots by some people watching the proceedings,” Obbo said.

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The Ugandan Parliament has seen a fair share of drama.

In 2017, the chamber was turned into a theatre of war when members threw punches and kicks, and hurled microphones and chairs, as they fought with security personnel who stormed the chambers to arrest opposition MPs during a debate to amend the Constitution and remove a clause on age limits on the Presidency.

The amendment cleared the way for long-serving President Yoweri Museveni, 75, to seek re-election next year should he so wish.

The amended Article 105 (2) had put an age cap at 75 years for eligibility.  The president will be 76 next year.

In 1967 the then government of President Milton Obote rolled armoured tanks and besieged the chambers to force members to pass a Constitution, which they neither wrote nor debated but found ready in their pigeon holes.  

Other forms of protest have included dumping of painted pigs sometimes with names of target MPs within the precincts of Parliament.

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