President Museveni is reported to have warned the ruling party’s retreat in Kyankwanzi on Wednesday that if the “confusion” in Parliament persists, the military would not allow it.
The President’s reported warning came days after Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga also delivered a veiled fear of a military intervention if MPs continue undermining public confidence in Parliament.
It also comes at a time when the NRM leadership is reasserting its authority over members, some of whom have joined the crusade against corruption.
Dr Kiyonga warned the House rules committee last week that soldiers were watching Parliament.
“If the military feels the country is in the hands of wrong politicians, some officers might be forced to intervene in the name of refocusing the country’s future,” he said while not ruling out the possibility of a coup.
The minister was testifying before the committee investigating the chaotic break-down in decorum which forced Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to suspend debate on the oil Bill late last year.
Some of the sources at Kyankwanzi said Mr Museveni echoed his minister’s fears.
However, the Daily Monitor could not independently establish what the President meant by the army, which is represented in Parliament, not allowing the confusion to persist.
But caucus spokesperson Evelyn Anite accused the sources of “putting words in the President’s mouth”, saying the head of State only emphasised that action shall be taken against difficult party MPs.
Simmering tensions between the two arms of government mounted after MPs signed a petition to force a recall of the House to discuss the controversy sparked by the sudden death of Butaleja MP Cerinah Nebanda.
The petition drew the wrath of Mr Museveni.
Fearing a threat to the country’s democracy, critics yesterday reminded Mr Museveni and Dr Kiyonga that Uganda’s government was elected by the people.
Mr Haruna Kyeyune (Indep, Kyotera) and Ms Florence Namayanja (DP, Bukoto East) said the insinuation of a military takeover is intended to intimidate independent-minded legislators.
Ms Namayanja said the government wants to suppress the right to free speech which is guaranteed by the Constitution.
“The President needs to be reminded that we have rule of law, the Constitution which is clear on the separation of powers,” Mr Kyeyune said.
Mr Livingstone Okello-Okello (former MP Chua) suggested that the country is headed for military government.
But the President’s press secretary, Mr Tamale Mirundi, said “even if the President made the statement, why should the indiscipline in Parliament persist?”
He said those criticising the President are fighting a proxy war and do not understand NRM politics.
“The President fought for democracy, he is a strong believer of democracy and rule of law. One of his achievements is an independent Parliament and there is no need to capture this institution,” Mr Mirundi said.”
Ruling out the possibility of military coup because of House indiscipline, Mr Mirundi said “a jigger cannot force you to cut off your toes.”
Samuel Otada (Indep, Kibanda), Jack Sabiiti (FDC, Rukiga) and Abdul Katuntu (FDC, Bugweri), some of the senior members in the House, accused the President and Dr Kiyonga of blackmail.
“It is good news, the pretence is now over, none of these two gentlemen can claim to have democratic credentials. They do nobody a favour to have democratic institutions in place,” Mr Katuntu said.
Last week, a bush war comrade of the President, Maj. Gen. Pecos Kutesa, was quoted in the Independent saying that the ongoing row between Mr Museveni and Parliament shows the danger of politics motivated by money.
Army Spokesman Col. Felix Kulaigye yesterday said: “The President is my Commander-in-Chief and the [Defence] minister is my superior. They have spoken for themselves. Once they have spoken, there is nothing for me to add, that will be indiscipline on my part.”
During the Budget deadlock in September last year, Mr Museveni told NRM MPs that re-allocating Shs15 billion from Defence to cater for the recruitment of health workers could result in the army overthrowing him.