By Our Reporter,
The Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah was on Tuesday forced to suspend business after opposition legislators walked out in protest over the re-arrest of their colleagues, Allan Ssewanyana and Muhammad Ssegirinya.
Ssewanyana(Makindye West) and Ssegirinya of Kawempe North were re-arrested shortly after release from Kigo prison where they had spent at least two weeks over their alleged participation in the recent spate of murders in greater Masaka region where over 25 people were killed.
When parliament convened, the Leader of Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga sought guidance on whether it was proper for business to continue as usual despite the re-arrest and detention of fellow legislators in an unexplained manner by security.
“We cant be here legislating when the state is violating the rights of our own Members of Parliament. It should not be business as normal,”Mpuuga said.
He also demanded for “an immediate” explanation on the re-arrest of the two opposition legislators and their whereabouts.
The Leader of Opposition wondered whether the office of the Speaker of Parliament had been notified of the re-arrest.
“The families of the two MPs have been denied access to them. Hon Ssewanyana has not been produced in court beyond the 48 hours and we are here legislating normally!”
Consequently, Mpuuga was joined by Kira Municipality legislator, Ibrahim Ssemuju Nganda who introduced a motion to have the parliamentary sitting suspended until their colleagues have been released.
Ssemuju was, however, asked by the Speaker Oulanyah to formally notify the Office of the Speaker before moving the motion
Meanwhile, the Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah intervened by requesting for an explanation on the re-arrest and why his office was not notified.
“I as presiding officer and leader of this house need to know circumstances under which my members are. That is what the law says,”Oulanyah said.
“Unless we get answers to the questions I have asked, we shall not proceed with this sitting.”
In response, minister David Bahati requested for time to allow the Minister of Internal Affairs to come to parliament to provide an explanation on the matter.
The sitting was halted for 15 minutes.
The Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja told parliament that the two legislators would be produced to record statements and see the way forward.
She was joined by the Attorney General, Kiryowa Kiwanuka who defended the re-arrest as being legal.
Kiryowa Kiwanuka told parliament that the two legislators will soon be arraigned in courts of law but insisted that they can be re-arrested as many times as the offences they commit.
“They can go back as many times as the offences they commit,” Kiwanuka said.
This statement didn’t augur well with opposition legislators led by the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Mathias Mpuuga who then stormed out of parliament.
“I submit I am constrained, I have no choice but to withdraw my members from this vulgar debate,”Mpuuga said.
Consequently, the opposition MPs donned white t-shirts with photos of Ssegirinya and Ssewanyana as they stormed out of the August House in protest of whatever was happening.
Speaking about the incident, Speaker Jacob Oulanyah applauded the opposition MPs for peacefully expressing their displeasure but blasted government over the manner the re-arrest of the two legislators was done without following the right procedures.
“Can we just do things right? The biggest problem is the technical people who rush to implement. It is problematic, there are things that should be avoided, the constitution and all supporting laws are clear about processes and procedures. Why flout them?”Oulanyah wondered.
He consequently adjourned the House to today, Wednesday, 2pm.