Chaos in Parliament in anticipation of the Age limit motion, House adjourned impromptu
On an unusual cloudy Thursday September 21, 2017 Parliament was surrounded by both army and Police compete with their armoury. Some of the soldiers were decorated with a bandolier wrapped around their torso like a bullet necklace, mean looking faces.
Inside the Parliament building, security checks and stops had an increased number of Policemen, clad both in uniforms and civilian clothing, the only thing that distinguished them from each other was a pair of walkie-talkies strapped on their belts. Anyone inside the parliament was on tension from the surrounding areas as reported on live television.
Members of Parliament together with the staff were not allowed to park their vehicles inside the Parliament premises. They were asked to park at the national theater and then walk to the Parliament, a security measure put in place after the Police shared concerns of a plot to burn the Parliament. In the corridors, several fire extinguishers were placed strategically, ready to put out any fires.
Meanwhile a meeting was taking place between the Speaker, Hon Kadaga and her deputy Hon Jacob Oulanyah. The agenda of the meeting sources say, was would they allow the motion to introduce a private members bill to lift the age limit to come to the August house and who would be chairing if such a motion were to come on the floor of Parliament.
At 1 PM, a bell was rang to inform MPs that the plenary sitting was about to start as on any normal day. Usually Parliament has less than 250 MPs out of the 449 Members of Parliament.
However, the Deputy Speaker walked into a fully packed house of 256 MPs , at 2.17 Pm with opposition MPs armed with whistles as they sung the national anthem which usually isn’t done at all.
The deputy Speaker informed the house that the motion would not be discussed, but it would come at another appropriate time.
“The motion by MP Magezi to introduce a private members bill will not be today, this motion may come next week or at another time and will be communicated to members” Hon Oulanyah said to the eager MPs.
The response from the opposition was a celebratory one. The leader of the opposition, Hon Winnie Kiiza informed the Deputy Speaker of Police deployment to the extent that Members were not allowed access to the building in the morning.
“I ask that you use your discretion, to read the mood of the house and adjourn the house, I also request that the Government tells members of Parliament why there was a siege of Parliament in the morning” said Hon Kiiza.
The Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda made an attempt to respond to the Leader of Opposition but was shut down with noise from the whistles being blown one part of the opposition. The other part was busy singing the national anthem.
After the House was quietened, Hon Otto raised a procedural point requesting that Minister Evelyn Anite be suspended from Parliament for 8 years and she appear before the rules committee for her comments in the media threatening the public that NRM had the backing of the Majje -Swahili word for the army.
To this motion, a vividly angry Hon Anite shouted point of order, daring Hon Otto to try and touch her. Deputy Speaker Hon Oulanyah ruled, asked MP Otto to find another time to raise his points and that Parliament term was only 4 years, so the 8-year request was impossible.
A distressed Deputy Speaker pleaded with the house to keep calm, when this didn’t happen after which he adjourned the house.
“I cannot chair a house that has members who are not willing to sit” Hon Oulanyah said.
With the house adjourned, opposition MPs pulled out their red bands, tied them around their heads to signify the blood they are willing to shade to fight the motion and walked out of the chambers singing in victory.
The motion to introduce a private members bill to lift the age limit is likely to come next week or not to come at all, will there be more drama? We wait to see.