In a recent press address, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Hon Mathias Mpuuga, has called on Speaker Rt Hon Anita Among to maintain consistency in applying the rules regarding the attendance of Members of Parliament, particularly ministers.
The call comes in response to the Speaker’s warning that opposition MPs could face expulsion if they miss 15 consecutive sittings without seeking permission.
Mr. Mpuuga expressed his concern over what he perceives as a lack of even-handedness in enforcing parliamentary rules. He urged Speaker Among to extend her scrutiny to ministers, citing the absence of prominent figures such as Hon Janet Kataaha Museveni, the Minister of Education and Sports, and Hon Kahinda Otafiire, the Minister for Internal Affairs.
Underlining the importance of ministers’ regular attendance, the Leader of Opposition emphasized that, as ex-officio members of parliament, ministers are required to be present at plenary sessions to address questions raised on the house floor.
The Leader of Opposition argued that if the 15-day ultimatum for expulsion is to be implemented, it should be applied uniformly to all members, regardless of their political affiliation.
“I don’t think there is anybody feeling that the Opposition is out, and therefore, the 15 days are targeting them. The 15 days should target Gen. Otafiire, Kataaha Museveni, and others. The Opposition MPs are doing their work, and even when they are absent, their absence from the House is official,” stated Mr. Mpuuga during the press briefing.
The Leader of Opposition further criticized the Speaker’s recent threat to expel opposition MPs who are boycotting plenary sittings as a form of protest against what they perceive as mishandling cases of missing opposition members. He argued that the opposition members are fulfilling their responsibilities, and even in their absence, their non-participation in the House is considered official.
Speaker Among issued the warning on Tuesday, November 14, 2023, stating that she would invoke parliamentary rules resulting in the loss of seats for opposition members if they fail to seek permission for their prolonged absence.
The opposition MPs, led by the Leader of Opposition, have been boycotting Plenary Sittings for over three weeks, highlighting concerns related to human rights violations that they believe remain unresolved. The ongoing standoff between the opposition and the Speaker raises questions about the enforcement of parliamentary rules and standards for attendance, particularly concerning ministers who hold crucial positions in the government.