18 January 2013

Uganda: Rusaniya - Why I Signed Petition

Beatrice Rusaniya Namala, the woman MP for Kiruhura district, said she signed for the recall of Parliament from recess because she was "very bitter" with the ruling NRM government.

Kiruhura is President Museveni's home district, which essentially makes Rusaniya the President's area MP. By signing up for a recall, which Speaker Rebecca Kadaga rejected yesterday, the petitioners wanted the House to discuss the events following the death of Butaleja Woman MP Cerinah Nebanda in December. They accused the executive of, among other things, undermining the doctrine of separation of powers.

"I signed the petition knowing what I was doing. I was very bitter with government. They [the executive] even failed to explain why they arrested the pathologist [Dr Sylvester Onzivua] whom Parliament contracted to carry out a parallel autopsy to verify what killed the late Butaleja Woman MP Cerinah Nebanda," she told The Observer.

Speaking about what she called "the executive's embarrassing performance in Parliament," Rusaniya, said that what angered her most was the fact that both James Baba [minister of state for Internal Affairs] and Amama Mbabazi [Prime Minister] failed to manage the situation.

"Baba and the Prime Minister never had an explanation to give over the arrest of the pathologist," she said.

Rusaniya added that contrary to what has been reported in the media, she has not disowned her signature.

"I represent the district. Museveni is a member of the executive and I am a Member of Parliament. I have my views and he has his," she said.

The 48-year-old quiet lawmaker told us that Museveni should know that she has her views as an MP. When Rusaniya signed the petition to recall Parliament from recess, many observers were shocked because she is considered to be a diehard Museveni supporter and represents people who are generally diehard supporters too.

President Museveni fiercely opposed the petition and went to great length to defeat it, including holding meetings with the speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, and her deputy, Jacob Oulanyah, plus other top NRM leaders. Museveni is also said to have sent text messages to every NRM MP, urging them not to sign the petition. But that did not stop Rusaniya from appending her signature.

Kadaga announced to disappointed petitioners yesterday, that because of MPs who wrote to her withdrawing their signatures, a group that is said to include Rusaniya, the petition can't stand. One MP also alleged that his signature was forged, Kadaga said.

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