Members of Parliament have expressed their views on President Museveni’s decision to drop Amama Mbabazi as Prime Minister and replacing him with health minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda.
President Museveni dropped the man many believed to be his closest ally in the ruling NRM party and in cabinet.
In a letter dated September 18, 2014, to Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, President Yoweri Museveni notifies the Speaker of the appointment of Ruhakana Rugunda as the new Prime Minister and also requests her to organize for his vetting for the office.
In the letter, the President also thanks Mbabazi for the work he has done for the Country.
Agago District Woman MP Akello Judith Franca noted that she still had doubts in Mbabazi’s presidential ambitions but that the sacking from President Museveni now confirms the rumors.
Akello, however, cited fear in the increasing number of retired prime ministers saying that the eighth Parliament passed a law that entitles every prime minister a long list of benefits at retirement.
Buikwe North MP Onyango Kakooba noted that it is the appointing authority to decide on who he wants to serve in his cabinet as Prime Minister.
He added that Mbabazi has been serving in different positions like the one of NRM Party Secretary General which has of late attracted arguments from NRM Party members.
Kakoba wished the incoming Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda well saying that he is composed, knowledgeable and balanced.
Kaberamaido District Woman MP Ibi Florence Ekwau warned that the people in power should know that the positions they hold are not for posterity and that there is time for an end.
She said that she is very sorry and sad for Mbabazi but that the laws that were passed in Parliament during his tenure as Prime Minister, Super Minister, and Security Minister were not good for the country and that he never knew that they would catch up with him.
Rubaga South MP John Ken Lukyamuzi said that he was not surprised by the reshuffle since the President does not want anyone who threatens his authority.
He however noted that the reshuffle is a meaningful chapter in the history of politics in Uganda saying that Mbabazi has been one of the closest people to President Museveni.
Lukyamuzi explained that Mbabazi could have already been censored if it were not for President Museveni who shielded him under the cover of Temangalo and that if the two very close friends can develop a divide there must be reasons.
Western Youth MP Gerald Karuhanga noted that Mbabazi’s sacking means that President Museveni wants to turn Uganda into a monarch and it shows some signals that he is grooming his son for Presidency.
He sympathized with Mbabazi about the new developments and also noted that it shows how far Uganda as a country is from achieving democracy.
Just hours after being dropped as Prime Minister, Mbabazi, has issued a statement thanking President Museveni for giving him an opportunity to serve in cabinet.
He also congratulated his soon-to-be successor, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, adding that the outgoing health minister has the capacity to deliver at the office of the Prime Minister. The outgoing Prime Minister also expressed his readiness for re- deployment in any other capacity.
The Kinkizi West Member of Parliament, who is also the ruling NRM party secretary general, thanked members of cabinet for the “maximum cooperation.” To the staff at the Prime Minister’s office, Mbabazi said he will continue working with them whenever his services are needed.
The decision by the president to drop Mbabazi comes at a time an apparent power struggle between the two NRM allies threatens to tear the ruling party apart.
Mbabazi was suspected of nursing ambitions to take on his boss in the 2016 elections, something the now former prime minister has always dismissed as untrue.
At NRM party legislators’ retreat in Kyankwanzi in February this year several MPs accused Mbabazi of undermining his party chairman and moved to sign a resolution endorsing Museveni as the only party candidate.
Mbabazi, the secretary general of the NRM, was among the last MPs to sign the petition.
Before becoming Prime Minister, Mbabazi held several cabinet portfolios including Defence, Security, and Regional Cooperation. He also served in both internal and external security organisations.
Dr Rugunda on the other hand served as minister of health from 1986-88 and again from 2013 until his new appointment yesterday.
The 66-year-old medical doctor also held several other ministerial positions including works, transport and communication minister from 1988 to 1994, foreign affairs from 1994 to 1996, information from 1996 to 1998, Presidency from 1998 to 2001, water, lands and environment from 2001to 2003, internal affairs from 2003 to 2009, Information and Communications Technology from 2011 to 2013 and then Health.
From 2009 to 2011, Rugunda was Uganda’s Permanent Representative at United Nations in New York. He retired from elective politics in 2001 after representing Kabale Municipality in Parliament for 15 years.
He is also remembered for chairing the Juba Peace Talks between the Uganda government and the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels.