This Tuesday afternoon, the LoP Mathias Mpuuga finally delivered his much-awaited rejoinder to the government statement Internal Affairs Minister Gen David Muhoozi presented last week in a bid to account for the 18 NUP supporters who the opposition maintains have been missing for the past two years.
At the end of the Mpuuga submission (which ended with calls for a Select Committee of Parliament or Judicial Commission of Inquiry to which the government side vigorously objected), senior Ministers like Chris Baryomunsi, Jacob Oboth-Oboth, Jackson Kafuuzi, GCW Denis Hamson Obua and others pushed back against Mpuuga’s demands. They were remarkably aided by the political colossus from Bugweri County Abdul Katuntu who vigorously clashed with leading opposition figure Muwanga Kivumbi on the Constitutionality of Parliament putting in place a Judicial Commission of Inquiry as proposed by Mathias Mpuuga.
To the total annoyance of Kivumbi and many colleagues from the opposition, Katuntu objected to the judicial inquiry on grounds it would have financial implications besides the fact that the same is the mandate of the Executive and not the Legislature. Kivumbi pushed back arguing that it was insensitive for Katuntu, the senior colleague as he repeatedly referred to him, to make reference to financial implications at the expense of the lives of people who have been missing. An angry Katuntu, at some point, told off Muwanga Kivumbi to stop being academic and begin to read and understand clear Constitutional provisions.
There was also plenty of exchanges between Mathias MP and Chris Baryomunsi as well on several things as the government side worked hard against the proposed Judicial Inquiry. Their view was that the Mariam Wangadya-led Uganda Human Rights Commission was sufficient besides the Fox Odoi-led Haman Rights Committee of Parliament.
Medard Segona went as far as reminding Parliament of the need to cede this Committee’s leadership to the opposition because it’s an accountability Committee. Katuntu wondered why the Segonas are insisting on proposals which in effect can weaken, as opposed to strengthening, the existing Committees of Parliament.
Segona was equally at his best and made many useful submissions occasionally coming in to strengthen what Mpuuga and Kivumbi were saying. Wilfred Niwagaba was equally excellent. There was pandemonium when Nansana Municipality MP Nsereko Wakayima shouted from the audience dismissing what Baryomunsi & others were saying as ‘nonsensical.’ A furious Anita Among ordered him out of the Parliamentary Chambers only changing her mind after the NUP MP owned up and nervously apologized almost on his bended knees.
After the back and forth debate, Among insisted she wanted people to propose some way forward after which she intended to put the matter, regarding Mpuuga’s proposals, to a vote which naturally frightened the legislators from the opposition knowing the tyranny of numbers with which the ruling NRM side is synonymous. Mpuuga worked very hard to ensure that the Speaker (who said she has so far been successful because of the good will from him) doesn’t put the matter to vote.
As some point the opposition side suggested that the executive can just wake up and decide to discontinue all criminal trials against the jailed opposition supporters just like it happened with the Bukedea investigations or even with the Rukungiri delegation which engaged with the President resulting into the pardoning of Col Kizza Besigye who was supposed to be prosecuted in the military court martial. Saying this won’t amount to interfering with the independence of the DPP or even Courts of law, it’s mainly Medard Segona and Shadow AG Wilfred Niwagaba who made this point.
Oboth-Oboth pushed back against this making it clear that the realisation that the final last word lies with the President in his capacity as head of executive is proof that Segona & Co are finally beginning to realise that this is a political problem which won’t be resolved through Mpuuga’s flowerly legalistic speeches in Parliament or even legal arguments inside the Courts of law. This realisation by Medard Segona was the clearest indication that majority inside NUP are beginning to realize and publicly acknowledge that the freedom of all NUP political prisoners (if at all they are still alive) will result from the Kyagulanyi crowd eating a humble pie and accepting to have talks and negotiations with Gen YKT Museveni.
Leveraging on exactly that, Anita Among (conceded to Mpuuga’s wishes and avoided putting the matter to a vote) and declared she was going to urgently speak to the President, in his capacity as head of Executive, to find a lasting solution to the issue of missing persons and the general human rights violation concerns which the opposition has been raising. She assured Mpuuga she was going to be in touch with him very closely as she engages H.E the President on all his concerns. She implored Mpuuga to take charge of the opposition agenda and be flexible to ensure that her engagement with the President delivers decent results and culminates into a win-win situation. Watch video here:
She also promised to closely work with both Mathias Mpuuga and Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa (since the three are the topmost leaders of Parliament as an arm of government) to engage the UHRC more. Among asked Mpuuga to be open-minded to accept whatever the President might end up saying including the possibility of insisting that Mariam Wangadya’s UHRC has the last word on the NUP dispute relating to missing persons.
Oboth-Oboth implored the opposition caucus leadership to be prepared to openly engage with the President as a person if they are indeed desirous to end up with an amicable solution similar to what the Rukungiri delegation got resulting into the release of Dr. Col Kizza Besigye from the military and the dropping of the President’s original plan to have him court-martialed.
Wherever he was as the Tuesday debate raged in Parliament, Dr. Abed Bwanika must have smiled from ear to ear with extreme blessedness because it’s increasingly becoming clear that what he has been proposing for years is in the end going to become the inescapable way forward for all stakeholders concerned with the issue of missing persons and human rights violations in the country. (For comments on this story, get back to us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734 & 041 4674611 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).