24 December 2012

Uganda: Deputy Speaker Clarifies On Nebanda Tribute Motion

The deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, has clarified the circumstances under which the motion to pay tribute to dead Butaleja MP, Cerinah Nabenda was passed amidst the executive protestations.

"When I adjourned [on Monday], I asked them [a team of MPs and executive] to sit together and agree on a position. However, when the President called a meeting, the [doctor] MPs did not go. It was unfortunate that there was a body in the House but that is not how it would have been handled," Oulanyah explained.

"It would have been proper if the other side [executive] had responded but they were not allowed. They were shouted down," he observed.

On Friday Parliament unanimously passed a resolution to honour Nebanda, 24 - who died the Friday before under unclear circumstances - for her versatile contribution in her 19-month legislation. While most MPs suspected poisoning as cause of the outspoken MP's death, government said it was caused by cocaine and drugs.

A committee of doctor MPs who participated in the postmortem on the deceased recommended to Parliament that no more samples be taken off Nebanda's body and burial should be held.

The committee also proposed Government stops harassing MPs and should respect medical personnel, after pathologist Dr. Sylvestre Onzivua, asked to do an independent forensic autopsy in South Africa, was arrested.

Parliament adopted the recommendations and emotionally charged MPs rejected demands by the Cabinet to respond.

The Attorney General Peter Nyombi told journalists on Saturday that the MPs' "resolutions" were "null and void" and he accused Parliament for illegally passing "resolutions" stopping any further investigations on the death of the MPs which left legislators warning each other to watch out on what they eat, drink or who they associate with.

In response, Oulanyah pointed out that Parliament "recommendations" as contained in the doctor MPs' report should not be confused with "resolutions" as the one that was passed to pay tribute to the youthful and vocal Nebanda who was credited as an anti-corruption crusader.

"Their contestation must be on that they were not given a chance to respond. I don't think it was well placed," Oulanyah said on telephone.

Nebanda was buried on Sunday by a large crowd in Butaleja district. But the send-off was not as smooth as it should have been, with Speaker Rebecca Kadaga rejecting the government report on the death of the youthful lawmaker.

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