A meeting called by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to discuss the public spat between Parliament and the Executive over the death of Butaleja Woman MP Cerinah Nebanda yesterday failed to agree on whether or not to recall the House for a special sitting.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers wants Parliament to discuss the recent arrests of their colleagues by police, and the impending summons to the Speaker for rejecting the government’s report that linked Nebanda’s death to the use of narcotic drugs.
Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah reportedly opposed the decision to recall the House, but Ms Kadaga and other members of the Parliamentary Commission maintained that it was a constitutional matter.
Mr Mbabazi and Mr Oulanyah then prematurely left the meeting described as “emotive”.
Sources, who attended the closed-door meeting at Parliament, told the Daily Monitor that Mr Oulanyah was taken to task for disowning Ms Kadaga on the involvement of Dr Sylvester Onzivua, the private pathologist hired by Parliament to help on an independent postmortem on Nebanda.
A source said the meeting was tough on the Deputy Speaker because “what the Speaker directs is valid and Oulanyah does not have the powers to dismiss her directives”.
Last week, Mr Oulanyah told police that he was not aware of Dr Onzivua’s engagement with Parliament in connection with an independent investigation into the death of the Butaleja MP.
During a meeting with the CIID Director, Ms Grace Akullo, at his office at Parliament last Friday, Mr Oulanyah said he was not aware that Dr Onzivua, a pathologist, had been hired by MPs to take Nebanda’s body samples to South Africa.
Mr Oulanyah’s remarks in the Sunday Monitor, the sources said, angered the commissioners, who accused him of disrespecting the Speaker. But Mr Oulanyah reportedly stood by his comments, as it was revealed that Mr Mbabazi also wrote to Ms Kadaga on December 28, challenging the involvement of Dr Onzivua.
“I wish to state that am not aware that the Parliamentary Commission, of which am a member, was ever convened for that purpose and sat to take such a decision. When and how was it convened and where did it sit?” asked Mr Mbabazi.
But even as the members of the commission disagreed, the latest on signatures indicated last evening that about 140 had signed to recall the House. The ex-Vice-President, Prof Gilbert Bukenya, is among those who had signed. The MPs are expected to present their petition to the Speaker today at 11am.
The meeting chaired by Ms Kadaga, as the head of the commission, was also attended by the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Mr Nandala Mafabi, and Mr Mbabazi. It lasted about six hours but ended without a clear way forward.
Whereas Mr Mbabazi insisted that recalling Parliament was not necessary, since the MPs were summoned by police and charged in courts of law as individuals, commissioners led by Dr Chris Baryomunsi (NRM, Kinkizi East), Mr Elijah Okupa (FDC, Kasilo), Mr Mafabi (FDC, Budadiri West) and Mr Emmanuel Dombo (NRM, Bunyole), among others, maintained that the Speaker would be under a constitutional obligation under Article 95 (5) to recall the House.
Ms Kadaga reportedly gave a chronology of events following the death of Ms Nebanda. She said she was concerned that some MPs had been arrested and others were still in hiding as they were being sought by police over their comments on their colleague’s death.
Mr Mbabazi denied reports that Parliament was being summoned to solve a standoff with the Executive.