KAMPALA – Parliament has given President Museveni two days to punish members of his Special Forces Command for beating up and torturing two Members of Parliament (MPs) or else they will not pass Bills.
In a heated debate on Tuesday afternoon, the members from both opposition and ruling party condemned what they described as impunity of the ruling party in condemning torture of MPs Robert Kyagulanyi (Kyadondo East), Francis Zaake (Mityana Municipality MP), Gerald Karuhanga (Ntungamo Municipality) and Paul Mwiru (Jinja Municipality East) following arrest over the Arua election chaos.
Leader of the Opposition Betty Aol Achan was the first to draw blood. “This is not the first time [soldiers are beating up MPs. The first time, members were tortured right here. This is the second time. There will be a third and fourth time if we continue to move like this,” Ms Aol said.
Bugabula South MP Henry Maurice Kibalya said if the MPs are attacked and Parliament continues sitting normally, it will mean the House will no longer be respected by the other arms of government.
“It would not be right for us to continue with business as usual without sending a message, and bring a stop to this impunity that is going on in the army who are taking it as [normal] to come and beat people,” Mr Kibalya said.
Aruu County MP Odonga Otto said the President must respond to Speaker Rebecca Kadaga’s letters on torture of MPs during the age limit debate last year and the one demanding the arrest of SFC soldiers over brutality in Arua.
“We were boxed here by the SFC, and the head of this institution wrote a letter to the President…No one has responded. I am waiting for a reply because I want to know who boxed my eye. So it cannot be business as usual because [the beating is becoming the norm]. If it is time to take action, it should be now. We cannot start processing bills…something has to be done so that the Executive can respond,” he said.
In her July 27 letter to the President, Ms Kadaga expressed concern that legislators Kyagulanyi, Zaake and others were tortured by security officers but nothing has been done to the officers that brutalized them. She also demanded that the perpetrators of the torture be apprehended at the earliest opportunity and presented before Court.
In the Tuesday session, Prime Minister Rukahana Rugunda’s attempts to explain that those who allegedly stoned one of the vehicles in the presidential convoy are to blame fell on deaf ears as several MPs shouted him down.
Busiro East MP Medard Sseggona accused Dr Rugunda of being insensitive.
“I was waiting for [Dr Rugunda] to condemn the killing of Yasin Kawuma, who was not a combatant…He did not address the torture [of the MPs], which is not in court; he did not condemn the killing of Ssekizijivu in Mityana and [Racheal Ayebazibwe] girl in Kyambogo,” Mr Sseggona said.
At this moment, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah adjourned the House to Tuesday nextweek.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SARAH ACEN KIBISI