Members of Parliament have given a two day ultimatum to President Yoweri Museveni to respond to a letter by the speaker Rebecca Kadaga in regards to torture allegedly meted out to members of the public including legislators in Arua two weeks ago.
Following chaos that allegedly culminated into the stoning of President Museveni’s convoy in Arua two weeks ago, over 30 people including MPs Robert Kyagulanyi, Gerald Karuhanga, Paul Mwiru and Kassiano Wadri among others were arrested by security agencies that included the police and soldiers from the Special Forces Command, an elite unit charged with the duty of protecting the president and the first family members.
In an August 27 letter to Museveni, Kadaga said she is constrained to address him about the ‘sad’ events on August 13 that saw a number of people assaulted and tortured during and after their arrest by security agencies adding that she is concerned that “no effort has been made to arrest the security officers from SFC, military police and Uganda Police Force who were involved in the violent actions against unarmed civilians.”
On Tuesday, hell broke loose when the August House being chaired by the Deputy speaker Jacob Oulanyah noted that it was abnormal for business to go on normally when some of their colleagues had been brutalized but they have not been given a response about the circumstances surrounding the matter.
Opposition Chief whip, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda told the house that it would be improper for parliament to proceed before the president responds to the speaker’s letter.
“There is no way parliament can continue with business as if nothing has happened certain MPs like Kyagulanyi,”Ssemujju argued.
“The issue of the security of MPs has to be addressed with great urgency to enable and strengthen the autonomy of Parliament.”
The leader of Opposition Betty Aol argued that the house cannot continue with business as usual stressing the need for perpetuators of the violence against fellow legislators to be brought to book.
Lwemiyaga County MP Theodore Ssekikubo said that the torture meted out to lawmakers is so memorable adding that just like the judiciary, parliament should lay down tools.
“We cannot sit here and continue with work if nothing is done,”Ssekikubo said.
However, in response, the Prime Minister, also the head of government business in parliament, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda pleaded with MPs to continue with business since the matter was in courts of law.
He proposed that business should continue as usual because one matter could not stop the August House from proceeding with its normal business.
“The incident in Arua was unfortunate and many have been apprehended legally. All of them have now been bailed out. The matters are now in the hands of the courts of law,” Rugunda said.
The lawmakers however insisted on suspending parliament until the issues have been addressed noting that if the institution is continuously attacked, soon there will not be parliament.
“We need to make a bold statement that we will not condone such unlawful and in acceptable acts against MPs,” Ssekikubo said.
Efforts by the Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah to calm them proved futile until he accepted to adjourn the house for two days until Tuesday September 2 when President Museveni has responded to Kadaga’s letter.
Kadaga in her letter to Museveni said that absence of any response on the torture and brutality on MPs and fellow Ugandans was a conduct in breach of the Prevention and Prohibition of the Torture Act 2012 in force in Uganda, especially section 2 1(a) and (b).