26 September 2017

Uganda: Chaos Reigns in Parliament As MPs Accuse Colleagues of Being Armed

Photo: Alex Esagala/Monitor
MPs fight in Parliament after trading accusations of smuggling a gun in the House during plenary on September 26, 2017.

Chaotic scenes ensued in Parliament on Tuesday shortly after Speaker Rebecca Kadaga said the Order Paper had been amended to include the controversial Raphael Magyezi's motion to amend the age limit cap on presidential candidates.

A section of Opposition members alleged that one of the legislators had entered in the House with a gun sparking more chaos as some members tried to exchange blows.

The House proceedings were interrupted for about 20 minutes with Ms Kadaga just looking on.

The Busongora North MP William Nzoghu, claimed that some members had entered the House with guns, adding that even the Speaker was not safe to debate in such an environment.

Busiro South MP Merdard Lubega Sseggona asked the Speaker to adjourn the House for security to conduct a thorough search on each of them.

However, Ms Kadaga said she could not adjourn the proceedings on mere allegations.

This did not solve matters as MPs scuffled. As the situation went out hand, chairs started flying as some MPs fled to safety while others tried to calm those who were baying for blood.

State Minister for Water, Mr Ronald Kibuule was specifically accused by Opposition and Independent MPs of having come to the House with a gun, an accusation he denied.

A fist fight almost broke out between Lwemiyaga County MP, Theodore Ssekikubo and Mr Kibuule.

"The issue of our security takes precedence over everything even the ministerial statement on the energy sector. At the moment we don't know who has the gun. Mr Kibuule warned me before the beginning of the proceedings that if I am not careful, I would be harmed," Mr Ssemujju, the Kira Municipality MP said.

He said Mr Kibuule was sandwiched by some men and in the process, the gun he had, disappeared.

"Before we proceed, all members should be checked. I care about my life. The procedual issue I am raising is about my life. How can we proceed as if nothing has happened?"

Speaker Kadaga told MPs that she would get evidence if at all any threat was issued by Mr Kibuule to Mr Ssemujju.

The ruling by Ms Kadaga prompted more chaos as Opposition MPs again crossed the floor to check colleagues who were allegedly armed.

"We want guns! We want guns... !" Opposition and Independent MPs chanted as Speaker Kadaga helplessly begged them to resume their seats.Speaker Kadaga succumbed and ordered the Sergeant-at-arms to carry out a body search of all MPs.

"You wanted a search; we are carrying out a search. Take your seats. Take your seats," Ms Kadaga pleaded.

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