10 January 2013

Uganda: 'Rebel' MPs Snub Retreat

With hours to the highly-billed retreat at the National Leadership Institute, Kyankwanzi, ruling party MPs who have come to be known as 'rebels' say they may not honour their invitations.

The meeting, which runs from January 11 to 22, is expected to discuss enforcement of discipline in the NRM, including MPs defying party positions, among other issues. It comes at a time when some MPs are facing charges relating to their conduct or utterances in connection with the death of Butaleja Woman MP, Cerinah Nebanda.

Those facing charges include Muhammad Nsereko (Kampala Central), Dr Chris Baryomunsi (Kinkiizi East), Dr Medard Bitekyerezo (Mbarara municipality), Emmanuel Dombo (Bunyole East) and Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga).

'Rebel' MPs we have spoken to dismiss the retreat as a waste of time. Nsereko, who is out on bail after he was charged with inciting violence during Nebanda's burial, told The Observer that he would not be party to the meeting.

"I pronounced myself on that issue during the last NRM caucus meeting we had in Kyankwanzi, that I'll never attend any caucus or retreat organised by the NRM again," he said.

Nsereko's Rwampara county counterpart, Vincent Mujuni Kyamadidi, said he too would not attend.

"Every time we go there, we become punching bags for everybody to abuse us; so, it will be good for me to stay behind and execute my duties in the constituency," he said.

Asked whether he was not worried about possible punitive action that could endanger his job, Kyamadidi replied: "We don't care if we are being punished by the party and if they wish, they can chase us out of NRM."

On his part, Ndorwa East MP, Wilfred Niwagaba, said he had not checked his diary but was unlikely to attend the retreat. His Buyaga West colleague, Barnabas Tinkasiimire, who is also chairperson of Parliament's committee on Presidential Affairs, put his probability to attend at merely 40%.

"The agenda has to be changed because we were not involved in drawing it. How many times are we going to discuss the party manifesto?" he asked. "We rather stay in our constituencies instead of wasting time discussing the party manifesto."

The NRM's acting Chief Whip, Rose Namayanja, was unavailable to comment on the issue.

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