September 8, 2013

‘Rebel’ MPs: Court Ruling Draws Mixed Reactions

Uganda’s Constitutional Court ruling suspending the four expelled National Resistance Movement (NRM) Members of Parliament from conducting any parliamentary activities has drawn mixed reactions amongst voters in Kabale district.

(R-L) Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo, Buyaga West MP Barnabas Tinkasimiire and Ndorwa East Wilfred Nuwagaba.
(R-L) Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo, Buyaga West MP Barnabas Tinkasimiire and Ndorwa East Wilfred Nuwagaba.

The affected MPs are; Theodore Ssekikubo, the Lwemiyaga County MP, Barnabas Tinkasimire, Buyaga West, Mohammad Nsereko, Kampala Central and Ndorwa East Wilfred Niwagaba.

On Friday, four of the five judges of the Constitutional Court delivered a ruling suspending the four MPs from parliament pending the disposal of a petition by the ruling NRM party challenging their stay in the house.

However, several voters in Kabale say the ruling is unfair. Johnson Baguma, the LC V councilor Buhara sub county says he is disappointed with the manner, in which the issue of the expelled MPs is being handled. Baguma says he will not give up support for Wilfred Niwagaba, who is his area MP.

He says the ruling by the judges does not reflect the rule of law but the wish of President Yoweri Museveni and his henchmen. Sam Arinaitwe, the Kabale district youth chairperson accuses the ruling party of influencing the court decision. Adding that, the ruling has left many Ugandans hopeless as they can no longer trust the judiciary. Arinaitwe argues that the MPs were elected to the parliament to represent their constituents saying the ruling undermines the people’s mandate.

Protaz Twine, a resident of Kyanamira Sub County in Ndorwa East says they are fully behind their MP saying whatever decision is taken by court, will be reversed by voters at the ballot. He says the court ruling didn’t into account the power of thee people, which is guaranteed by the constitution, which states clearly that power belongs to the people. Arinaitwe argues that the constitutional court should have stayed its decision and wait for the disposal of the main petition.

Rev. Fr. Gaetano Batanyenda, the chairperson Kigezi inter religious council says he is not surprised by the decision taken by the Judges since some of them are promoters of the ruling National Resistance Movement, who could not give an independent Judgment contrary  to the wish of their Party.

He said both Stephen Kavuma and Augustine Nshimye are listed as promoters of the party adding that, there is evidence showing that they denounced the party when they were appointed Judges.

However Amos Rwanshaija, the NRM administrative secretary Kabale district says the legislators actually got what they deserved. Rwanshaija says the ‘Rebel’ MPs have on various occasions acted in breach of the NRM constitution adding that, their suspension should serve as an example to other would be offenders.

Trouble for the four MPs started early this year after they were dismissed from NRM by the Central Executive Committee chaired by president Yoweri Museveni for alleged indiscipline. As a result, Ugandan Prime Minister and NRM secretary general Patrick Amama Mbabazi  wrote to Rebecca Kadaga, the Speaker of Parliament to expel the MPs, but she rejected the request saying there is no provision for such a decision.

The NRM leadership filed a petition before the Constitutional Court seeking for orders to compel the Speaker to expel the MPs from the house.

The petitioners argued that since the MPs has been expelled from the party; they should also lose their seats, which they won on the NRM ticket.

The MPs however, argue that they do not represent their diverse political parties in Parliament but their constituencies. High court will decide the final fate of the MPs on 15th October 2013.

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