Opposition legislators today stormed out of parliament in protest against the re-arresting of Kawempe North MP, Muhammad Ssegirinya, and his Makindye West counterpart, Allan Ssewanyana.
The legislators walked out shortly after the house resumed on Tuesday afternoon after a ten-minute adjournment by the speaker Jacob Oulanyah to allow the government to present a statement on the re-arrest of the two legislators.
A joint security task force re-arrested Ssegirinya on Monday outside Kigo prison shortly after being released on bail by the High court. The legislator was remanded to Kigo prison on September 8 on six counts of murder, attempted murder and aiding and abetting terrorism.
Police spokesperson, Fred Enanga later issued a statement, saying that the MP had been re-arrested on fresh charges of treason and incitement to violence and transferred to the Special Investigations Division (SID), Kireka for statement recording and action.
This is the same brutal manner that heavily armed security re-arrested Ssewanyana on Thursday last week and drove him to SID. The two MPs are being accused of their alleged involvement in machete killings in the Greater Masaka sub-region, which have claimed the lives of at least 30 people.
On Tuesday afternoon, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja confirmed the re-arresting of the two legislators. She explained that Ssewanyana was interrogated on Monday by the criminal investigations directorate in the presence of his lawyers, adding that Ssegirinya would also be interrogated later today and record his statement.
On the failure by the government to notify the speaker about the re-arrest of the legislators, Nabbanja said that this information will soon reach the speaker’s office. Her response did not go well with Buhweju County MP, Francis Mwijukye who said that parliament cannot proceed given the unclear absence of its members.
Lwemiyaga County MP Theodore Ssekikubo also questioned whether the government side found it unnecessary to inform the speaker before rea-arresting the MPs.
Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka said that it was an error on the part of the government not to inform the office of the speaker but everything is being done to make sure that the legislators are treated within the law.
“The two colleagues are going to be presented in court…and they can go back as many times, as the offences they commit,” Kiryowa said.
Kiryowa’s statement enraged opposition MPs. Leader of Opposition Mathias Mpuuga said that the statement by the attorney general was very disturbing since Ssewanyana has not been produced in court in the last 48 hours.
Mpuuga said that he was constrained to continue with the sitting and immediately led the opposition MPs out of the chambers in protest.
Oulanyah said that it is part of the rights of any MP to signify dissent but hastened to add that he does not approve of the idea of changing the dress code of the House.
“But am not in any disagreement with the act of walking out, I have no problem with that because the option would be to stay and become problematic. So, I applaud the leader of opposition that he has led his team out of the chambers of this House without any drama…with the exception of change of dress code of this House. I applaud him for that,” said Oulanyah.
He said that there are things that should be avoided since the Constitution is clear about processes and procedures.
Nabbanja said that the government was going to look for a way forward regarding the matter. Oulanyah then adjourned the House to Wednesday, 2:00 pm.
Earlier, Ssekikubo warned fellow legislators against granting President Yoweri Museveni his wish of denying bail to capital offense suspects. Museveni, today summoned NRM MPs to among other things, deliberate on bail.
“Today, you might think it is over Allan Ssewanyana and Muhammad Ssegirinya, tomorrow it will be you. I remember Rt. Hon speaker and members, I was arrested on Friday around 2020 in January for the breach allegedly of quarantine of foot and mouth disease. I was arrested at a general market on a Friday by Gen Tumwine. By the time I was presented before court on Monday, charges had changed to attempted murder and here I’m, I’m NRM am on this side. So for members who might think that you’re safe because it is happening to the other side, you never know which directions these winds might blow and therefore we must be very careful as members of parliament. I don’t subscribe to NUP but I think they deserve protection as members of parliament,” said Ssekikubo. URN