Chaos in Uganda parliament as speaker Rebecca Kadaga suspends 25 MPs
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Ugandan legislators brawled in Uganda’s parliament for a second day running on Wednesday over a fiercely disputed move to change the constitution to let long-ruling President Yoweri Museven i run for re-election after age 75.
MPs exchanged blows and kicks, with some using microphone Poles, least two female lawmakers were carried out of the chamber after collapsing,Ronald Kabuubi, a journalist with Kmaupdates said.
At least 25 MPs opposed to the proposed constitutional amendment to prolong Museveni’s tenure were forcibly ejected on orders of the speaker for involvement in fighting on Tuesday. All other like-minded MPs then walked out. The suspended MPs, mostly Opposition legislators opposed to the scrapping of Article 102 (b) from the Constitution that bars people who are above 75 years from contesting for presidency, have however, refused to vacate the Chambers forcing Ms Kadaga to suspend the Sitting.
Those suspended, among others; are Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine (Kyaddondo East), MP Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West), Monica Amoding (Kumi District), Dr Sam Lyomoki (Workers) Betty Nambooze (Mukono Municipality) Ibrahim Kasozi (Makindye East) and Moses Kasibante (Rubaga North).
After a standoff, security officers dressed in suits stormed the Chambers and forcefully dragged Mr Kyagulanyi and Mr Ssewanyana out.
Ms Angelina Osege, the Soroti District Woman MP who is also the chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee, was seriously beaten by the arresting security operatives.
She was carried to one of the waiting ambulances by MPs and other Parliament officials. The ambulance took her to an undisclosed hospital. Mr Francis Zaake (Mityana Municipality), was also seriously injured and taken to hospital.
Other MPs who were reportedly arrested are Gerald Karuhanga, Odonga Otto (Aruu), Mohammed Nsereko (Kampala Central), Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda (Kira Municipality) and Mubarak Munyagwa (Kawempe South).
Mr Charles Angiro Gutumoi (Erute North) collapsed as security operatives forced him out.
After calm returned, ruling party MP Raphael Magyezi introduced the contested motion authorising parliament to draft and present a bill that would lift the constitution’s age cap on presidential candidates.
The motion passed, parliament communications director Chris Obore said that Magyezi would have about a month to submit the bill to a first reading in the House.
Under the existing constitution, eligibility to stand as a presidential candidate in the East African country has an age ceiling of 75.
That makes Museveni, 73, in power since 1986 and increasingly accused of authoritarianism and a failure to curb corruption, unqualified to seek re-election at the next polls in 2021. Removing the age cap would erase that barrier.
Fisticuffs first broke out in the Kampala parliament on Tuesday, leading Uganda’s communication regulator Uganda Communications Commission to ban live broadcasts of events “inciting the public”.
Uganda’s two major privately owned TV stations, NBS and local unit of Kenya’s NTV (Nation Media Group), and some radio stations carried Tuesday’s parliamentary session live.
Protests by students and opposition activists and supporters in Kampala against the amendment, sometimes broadcast live, have been put down with tear gas and arrests of scores of people.
He also observed that MPs wouild, at an “appropriate time”, likely next week, be informed of the determination by the Speaker’s office on the notices of motion.
The deputy Speaker also criticised the siege by police and the army, which resulted in the Speaker and his deputy accessing Parliament through improvised back entrances. The “blockade”, he says, is unnecessary but he urges lawmakers to conduct themselves and speak responsibly to deny outsiders a reason to interfere with parliamentary business.