Parliament witnessed an unexpected turn of events as Bamunanika legislator Robert Ssekitooleko was forcibly removed from the Legal Affairs Committee sitting, in compliance with Speaker Anita Among's directive to exclude opposition MPs from parliamentary proceedings.
The acting chairperson, West Budama legislator Fox Odoi, ordered Ssekitooleko to vacate the session, citing the speaker's directive, raising questions about the consistent application of the order.
Fox Odoi, in directing Ssekitooleko to leave, stated,
"I am implementing a directive given by the Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, who said boycotting legislators should be excluded from all parliamentary business."
Despite receiving communication to attend the sitting, Ssekitooleko expressed bewilderment at being ousted from the committee.
Meanwhile, within the same parliamentary precincts, Speaker Among chaired a committee where the Leader of Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga, was in attendance. This apparent inconsistency in the application of the directive has sparked mixed reactions, with some questioning whether it is selectively enforced.
In a noteworthy move, the Leader of Opposition participated in the Appointments Verification Committee, adding fuel to the debate about the size and stature of MPs affected by the directive.
Similarly, MP Teddy Nambooze attended the Rules Committee, asserting her right as a representative of her constituents.
The ongoing impasse has raised concerns among several MPs who fear that the standoff is undermining the integrity of the legislature, potentially leaving the government unchecked.
Some MPs have expressed their intention to attend proceedings until forcibly removed, highlighting the gravity of the situation.
In the Rules Committee, chaired by Vice Chairperson Fr. Charles Onen, business came to a standstill as MP Francis Zaake's lawyer informed the committee that his client was unwilling to defy the Speaker's directive.
The vice chairperson deemed the directive as mere threats but directed Zaake to appear before the committee on Tuesday to interact with witnesses related to MP Juliet Kinyamatama's case.
As the parliamentary drama unfolds, the selective implementation of the speaker's directive continues to be a focal point of debate, creating a challenging environment for the effective functioning of legislative committees.