As the clock races towards the Speakership election, Parliament yesterday adopted reforms to its procedural rules, among which is creation of a permanent sitting position for the armed forces in the House.
During plenary, MPs concurred with a proposition the Hon Clement Ongalo Obote led Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline to insert a provision catering for the above.
“To insert a new sub rule to Section 9 of Parliament’s Rules of Procedures to create a permanent sitting position for independent leaning Members of Parliament (MP) and other special category groups which include Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF),” Ongalo revealed.
This is a departure from the previous Section 9 (2) and (3) which only gives the Speaker powers to reserve seats on the right-hand and left hand side for the ruling party members and the opposition respectively.
As a consequence, Kumi County MP Silas Aogon an independent revealed that it is the reason they have been sitting with the opposition despite being neutral.
Perhaps out of fear that this undertaking might allow the UPDF to stretch its footprint on the Constitutional making process, Budadiri West MP Nathan Nandala Mafabi quickly chipped in saying the Commonwealth Parliamentary System only recognizes two flanks.
“When we are defining categories, you either belong to the party or you are an independent. Now UPDF as you are saying it should be catered for, my question is; are we creating a specific place for UPDF, are they not like other Members of Parliament who are free to sit anywhere?” Mafabi wondered.
He further corrected his Kumi Counterpart saying the issue of independents sitting with the Opposition was necessitated by lack of adequate sitting space and therefore should not be a big matter.
“In the last Parliament, I was the leader of opposition and the speaker then who is the current speaker requested that the independent MPs because we want more space we should sit with them,” Mafabi added.
However, Speaker Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga guided that creating a special sitting position will specifically save the UPDF from sharing seats with the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) Party which is not constitutionally right.
“I am sure that if the UPDF walked and sat next to the Shadow Minister on the front bench, they would be ejected,” Kadaga advised.
Elevating plenary sittings
Meanwhile, an amendment to gazette Monday as a Parliamentary Sitting day on top of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday was shunned by the Government side led by Third Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Moses Ali and the Opposition.
“I disagree with the proposal because Monday is a day for cabinet meetings. The House cannot proceed without Ministers. I therefore suggest that rule 19 (2) should instead be amended to maybe include Friday as a Parliamentary Sitting day to cater for Monday,” Ali opposed.
Parliament is today Wednesday expected to delve into other amendments which include a proposal to bar the use of foul language in the already heated Speakership campaigns.
“The Committee on 10th March 2021 received a directive from the House to make proposals on how to curb the use of foul language against different contenders for the positions of Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the 11th Parliament,” Ongalo told Parliament on March 30, 2021.
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