Why Opposition called off boycott of House sessions

Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Mr Mathias Mpuuga. PHOTO | PARLIAMENT

Opposition Members of Parliament yesterday called off their boycott of the House sessions, citing government’s pledge to address the issues that they had raised.

The Opposition MPs last week suspended their attendance of the House sessions, protesting, among others, the re-arrest of their colleagues, Muhammad Ssegirinya (Kawempe South) and Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West MP) after they were granted bail.  

However, the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament (LoP), Mr Mathias Mpuuga, yesterday said although the government has not met most of their demands, the quest for freedom of their incarcerated colleagues is taking shape.

“The quest for freedom is not an event, it’s a long journey we are ready to walk, albeit treacherous,” Mr Mpuuga said told Daily Monitor.

Sources at Parliament indicated that the absence of the Opposition legislators was reflecting badly on the government hence convincing the LoP to recall them.

“They (government) asked the LoP to convince the Opposition back to the House. They knew that there were laws that were meant to be passed but the House was in a monologue with only NRM members, so the Leader of the Opposition was put under pressure,” the source said in an interview.

In response, Mr Mpuuga said: “We started it; it was our business to end it. Aware that the House shall stand suspended most likely today, we could not miss putting some matters on record, as members go into a two-week recess.”

This is not the first time the Opposition are boycotting parliamentary sessions.

In 2017, LoP Winnie Kiiza announced that the Opposition would boycott three House sessions in solidarity with their colleagues who were suspended on allegations of causing mayhem during the debate to remove Article 102b from the Constitution.

Yesterday, Mr Joel Ssenyonyi, the spokesperson of the National Unity Platform, told this newspaper that they decided to return to the House because they have many other issues to fight.

“We know for sure that not all our issues have been solved but we have so many complaints and we have to be in the House to have them addressed.  We have to make sure that we mount pressure all the time. We have also renewed our demand for the release of all political prisoners,” Mr Ssenyonyi said.

 Mr Mpuuga said: “We returned to address related concerns of rights violations, including raising the plight of so many young people that were arrested whose names we laid before the House; and the Speaker has ordered the minister for Security to come and explain the disappearance of citizens.”

“I have also put the House on notice to move a motion to investigate the abuse of human rights and disappearance of citizens over the past 24 months. We shall move it immediately the House resumes,” he added.