Minister invades parliament with gun!
By Nsikan Ikpe
Plans by Uganda’s 72-year old President, Yoweri Museveni to change the constitution to allow him continue as President ceaselessly has thrown the Ugandan Parliament into chaos for the second day running.
In the ensuing melee, a minister and 25 MPs were thrown out over Tuesday’s fracas even as Speaker Rebecca Kadaga suspended Water Minister Ronald Kibuule for allegedly entering Parliament chambers with a gun.
The suspended MPs were mostly from the opposition and had demanded that the minister be disarmed ahead of the debate on the scrapping of Article 102 (b) from the Constitution that bars people above 75 years from contesting for the presidency.
The MPs include Mr Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine (Kyaddondo East), Mr Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West), Ms Monica Amoding (Kumi District), Dr Sam Lyomoki (Workers), Ms Betty Nambooze (Mukono Municipality), Mr Ibrahim Kasozi (Makindye East) and Mr Moses Kasibante (Rubaga North).
However, the lawmakers refused to vacate the Chambers, forcing Ms Kadaga to suspend the sitting. After a standoff, security officers stormed the chambers and forcibly dragged Mr Kyagulanyi and Mr Ssewanyana out.
The Tuesday session marked another chaotic day in the Ugandan Parliament over the controversial presidential age limit debate.
Members engaged in an ugly brawl, throwing chairs, and tagging and pulling one another over allegations that Mr Kibuule had smuggled a gun into the chamber.
Unlike last week, Ms Kadaga sat through the melee, before yielding to pressure to suspend House business that was held under equally heavy military and police presence around Parliament.
Police and the military had also battled various demonstrators in different towns, leading to the arrest of several people, including main opposition politician Kizza Besigye.
Uganda has remained restive over the proposed Constitutional amendment, seen as a significant step towards securing a free run for President Yoweri Museveni to seek re-election in 2021.
President Museveni, 72, is barred by the current Constitutional order from standing again as he will have surpassed the 75-year mark by the next election.
A caucus of members of the governing National Resistance Movement (NRM) last week voted unanimously in favour the motion seeking to remove the presidential age limit.
The vote in Parliament’s conference room, was the latest development in a thinly veiled process that has been playing out in the open without official endorsement.
NRM members and State House staff have been engaged in low-key but intense mobilisation for the amendment.
Resolutions supporting the lifting of the age limit passed peacefully with police protection in a country where political gatherings, mainly for opposition activists, have often been violently broken up by the security agencies.
An initial effort to present the change in a private members Bill by Nakifuma County MP Robert Kafeero earlier this year was dismissed by some as a joke but was sufficient to set in motion a debate that has pervaded the country now for months.
President Yoweri Museveni