Uganda MPs in Chamber battle ahead of age limit debate

Tuesday September 26 2017

Ugandan MPs fight in Parliament after trading

Ugandan MPs fight in Parliament after trading accusations of smuggling a gun in the House during plenary on September 26, 2017. PHOTO | ALEX ESAGALA | NMG 

CHARLES M. MPAGI
By CHARLES M. MPAGI
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Members of Uganda’s Parliament Tuesday engaged in an ugly brawl in the Chamber ahead of the controversial presidential age limit debate.

The legislators threw chairs and tagged and pulled each other over allegations that a minister had smuggled a gun into the Chamber.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga had okayed the motion by Mr Raphael Magyezi, among others, seeking various amendments to the Constitution, alongside other business of the House.

But chaos ensued shortly after as Makindye West MP Allan Ssewanyana alleged that guns had been smuggled into the Chamber, with the opposition members pointing a finger at Mukono County North MP and Water minister Ronald Kibuule.

Chairs were thrown as MPs tried to force Mr Kibule out, insisting they could not conduct business when their security was not guaranteed. They demanded an adjournment then a re-entry into the House, after a thorough search.

Ms Kadaga’s pleaded with the members to resume their seats and later ordered Mr Kibuule out, but the minister hesitated before springing up his seat.

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Mr Kibuule, surrounded by several ruling NRM party colleagues, then moved a few paces, turned around and removed his jacket—an act the opposition MP suspect enabled him to get rid of the gun. He then turned around, declaring he had no gun.

The opposition MPs, led by Medard Ssegona, insisted the gun had just melted from Mr Kibuule’s body but was still in the Chamber.

Ms Kadaga then ordered a search after the opposition MPs refused to listen to Energy minister Irene Muloni's statement.

Unlike last week, Ms Kadaga sat through the melee, refusing to yield to pressure to suspend House business, held under equally heavy military and police presence around Parliament.

Police and the military had also battled various demonstrators in different towns. Several people, including main opposition politician Kizza Besigye, were arrested earlier in the day in efforts to contain the demonstrations.

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