Tuesday November 27 2012

Oil debate turns chaotic as Kadaga flees chambers

By Sheila Naturinda

Parliament is in disarray as the Speaker, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, suddenly abandons chairing the day’s afternoon session when emotions ran high and chaos descended upon a scheduled debate on the now-controversial oil Bill.

Ms Kadaga stormed out through a side door when it became clear that she had lost control of proceedings. The Sergeants-At-Arms was seen taking position beside the ceremonial Mace moments before she suddenly exited the chambers as MPs engaged in a chaotic exchange.

The sergeant was soon joined by a colleague before walking out with the Mace. The Mace is a symbol of the Speaker’s authority and must be laid on the table when the Speakers is presiding over business.

Members could not agree on whether to re-open discussion on clause 9 of Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Bill, 2012. Energy Minister Irene Muloni had last week forced through a re-committal of the clause, even though those opposed to the action insisted there was no quorum in the House at the time.

The clause seeks to give powers to grant and revoke exploration/exploitation licenses and endorse petroleum agreements to the minister. Two weeks earlier it had been agreed by MPs who moved that these powers be vested in the envisaged Petroleum Authority whose decisions would have to be approved by Parliament in the exercise of its oversight functions.

Ms Kadaga’s action before a full House stunned journalists and the packed public gallery. There is still no indication whether Parliament is still in session – minus a Speaker to chair proceedings – or it has been adjourned.