Sunday February 23 2014

Expelled ‘rebel’ MPs hit back at judges

By Monitor Reporters

KAMPALA- A day after court ordered the four NRM estranged MPs out of Parliament, they have hit back at the judges accusing them of violating the laid down rules.

The Constitutional Court on Friday ruled that the four “rebel” MPs: Mr Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga County), Mr Muhammad Nsereko (Kampala Central), Mr Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East) and Mr Barnabas Tinkasiimire (Buyaga County), are in Parliament illegally.

In a 4-1 majority judgement, the judges issued a permanent injunction barring the MPs from accessing and or participating in Parliament activities and ordered the Electoral Commission to organise fresh elections in the four respective constituencies.

Four justices of the court - Richard Buteera, Faith Mwondha, Augustine Nshimye and Steven Kavuma - also faulted Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga’s decision to allow the MPs remain in the House upon expulsion from the party on whose mandate they were elected. Only Justice Remmy Kasule differed from his colleagues.

While addressing journalists in Kampala after the ruling, two of the MPs (Ssekikubo and Nsereko) flanked by their lawyers questioned the powers of the court to directly order EC to organise fresh elections without going through the Speaker of Parliament.

“The practice is that when a seat falls vacant it is the Speaker through the Clerk to Parliament to direct EC to organise a by-election but not the judges. The judges must respect the Constitution and electoral laws,” said Mr Ssekikubo, who commended Justice Remmy Kasule, the only judge who made a dissenting judgement, for standing firm.

The MPs’ lawyers led by George Wilson Kanyeihamba have started the process of appeal against the court’s ruling.

Meanwhile, the Buhara Sub-county chief in Ndorwa East, Mr Joseph Baryamujura, has welcomed the expulsion of his area MP, Mr Wilfred Niwagaba, from the NRM party and Parliament.

Mr Baryamujura said Mr Niwagaba’s expulsion was long overdue because since he started opposing his superiors in Kampala, the government had reportedly stopped funding several programmes such as rural electrification and community roads in the constituency. But the chairman of Kyanamira sub-county in Ndorwa East, Mr Deus Kamugisha, said they are ready to vote Mr Niwagaba back to Parliament.

In Kampala Central constituency, several voters said they will vote Muhammad Nsereko back in a by-election.

“Our leaders fail to understand one fact – when I choose to vote for a person, I vote for that particular individual not a party he represents,” said Mr Moses Ssebilanda, a LCI chairman for Kiseka Market area.

Reported by Ephraim Kasozi, Herbert Zziwa, Robert Muhereza and Farahani Mukisa