Voice of America (Washington, DC)

4 February 2014

Uganda: Parliamentarian Demands Improved Security for Lawmakers

Photo: All Africa Women Leaders' Summit
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga.

A Ugandan parliamentarian has called on President Yoweri Museveni's government to deploy security officers to protect lawmakers after a parcel sent to the speaker of parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, exploded. Parliamentarians are scheduled to reconvene on February 18 following their recess.

Muwanga Kivumbi Muhammed, a leading member of parliament's committee on defense and internal affairs, says lawmakers from both the majority and minority groups will unanimously demand an investigation into the "alleged assassination" attempt on the life of the speaker of parliament.

"It is very unfortunate information that has shocked many members of parliament, the entire political class in Uganda [and] the general public, that the speaker of parliament was a victim of an assassination attempt, and that a letter bomb was sent to her. She was lucky that the letter and the bomb were detected and saved the country a horrible possible tragedy. It is regrettable, and we are scared," said Muhammed.

Uganda media reported that Herman Kaboggoza, an official in the speaker's office was injured after an explosion when he opened a parcel meant for Ms. Kadaga. Kaboggoza was rushed to a hospital where he is recuperating from the injuries he sustained following the explosion.

Muhammed condemned the apparent assassination attempt as a plot by enemies of the state to undermine the country's peace and stability, and said legislators will soon pass a resolution demanding an inquiry into the assassination attempt.

"That is an obvious case, we will demand a full investigation, because a threat to the speaker is a threat all members of parliament," said Muhammed. "If we are not able to receive our mails and if we get scared of what is contained in the parcels that we receive definitely, that means our work and business would be heavily curtailed. You cannot afford a national legislature that is panic and in state of scare."

Muhammed expressed concern about that the lack of security for legislators. He says parliamentarians are vulnerable to attacks by opponents since not all of them are assigned official weapons such as handguns for their protection.

"The security of Members of Parliament in Uganda is extremely lousy," said Muhammed. "They don't have any security at their homes, nor are they entitled to any security. It is only when they are in the chambers in parliament where there are security details. But outside the house, they are as ordinary as any other Ugandan. They are subject to attacks, [and] robberies that come their way."

Muhammed says the assassination attempt is an indication that there may be people who would want to harm lawmakers, which he says could create chaos.

"We lost a member of parliament last year and some members of parliament have been attacked by thugs and rogues, and therefore it is high time as members of parliament we demand, a special course direction as to our security detail," said Muhammed.

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InFocus

Ugandan Speaker Breaks Silence on Letter Bomb

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga.

Speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga has revealed that the letter bomb sent to her - and that left one of her office attendants injured - is now under police investigation. Read more »