Video: Ugandan MPs Riot Inside Parliament Over Oil Bill
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga on Tuesday evening prematurely adjourned the sitting of Parliament following shouting matches between legislators on both sides of the house.
Kadaga took action as legislators failed to agree on the mode of recommitting clause 9 of the oil exploration bill.
MPs could not agree on whether to debate the clause or move into voting on its reconsideration.
MPs, for the first time in Uganda’s history, were seen pointing fingers at each other, shouting, singing and making all sorts of noise.
Some, as shown in the video, nearly strangled each other as tensions hit boiling levels.
Kadaga’s appeal for sanity fell on deaf ears as hell broke loose.
Top government officials looked on in disbelief.
According to MP Abdu Katuntu, some of the legislators who are well known for their absenteeism had surprisingly turned up for voting.
For starters, originally, clause 9 of the bill provided powers to the Minister to grant licenses to oil Companies.
The controversial clause provided that the minister shall be responsible for—
(a) Granting and revoking licences;
(b) Initiating, developing and implementing oil and gas policy;
(c) Submitting draft legislation to Parliament;
(d) Issuing petroleum Regulations;
(e) Negotiating and endorsing petroleum agreements;
(f) Approving field development plans;
(g) Promoting and sustaining transparency in the petroleum sector;
(h) Approving data management systems; and
(i) Any other function incidental or consequential to his or her functions.
The contention on clause 9 stems from the fact that Parliament had provided powers to grant licenses to the Petroleum Authority of Uganda and not the minister.
The Minister now wants Parliament to revert this decision and have powers restored a move legislators have openly challenged and vowed to resist through other avenues including organizing protests.
Legal experts say reconsideration of clause 9 will have an effect on almost 80% of all the other clauses in the bill.
MP Niwagaba, a lawyer, told Parliament yesterday that “If we recommit clause 9, we shall have to reconsider the entire bill.”
Kampala Central MP Mohammed Nsereko had earlier requested that debate on the clause would arm legislators with adequate knowledge on the merits of the clause before voting on the clause.
Kadaga fled through a side door and later sent a notice that Parliament would reconvene today to discuss the matter.
Security remains tight at Parliament as legislators resume debate today.
The Civil Society in conjunction with opposition political groups led by Col Kizza Besigye have since been blocked by Police from walking to Parliament to express their anger at a move engineered by some NRM MPs to reconsider the Oil Bill.
Led by Medard Ssegona and Theodore Ssekikuubo, the MPs last week walked out of Parliament, protesting against what they termed as a “coup against the wishes of majority Ugandans.”
They further vowed to mobilize Ugandans to protest against the move which they say is “anti-people.”
But Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi told the House that failure to recommit clause 9 “is tantamount to removing the President from the control of the oil resource.”
MPs say the move to recommit the clause is “anti-people” and “unacceptable.”
On Monday morning, Besigye announced that “concerned Ugandans” would take to the streets and march to Parliament to protest against the Bill’s reconsideration.
Uganda Police Force on Saturday warned legislators against plans to hold what they termed as an “unlawful” rally.
“We would like to inform the general public that the organizers of this planned demonstration, have neither notified the Police, nor provided the requisite details as required by procedure, to enable the Police provide security, and ensure that the demonstration is peaceful,” said Deputy Police Publicist Vincent Ssekate.
“Any planned demonstration or procession, in this instance, is therefore, unlawful, and shall not be allowed to take place.”
Ssekate said while the Constitution grants the right to demonstrate peacefully and unarmed, this right comes with conditions and responsibilities.
“The overriding condition is that, any person exercising this right must do so without prejudicing the rights of others or public interest. Public interest includes national security,” he observed.
Under Article 212 of the Constitution, he said, it is the constitutional responsibility of the Police to safeguard these rights, by preserving the peace, maintaining law and order, and detecting and preventing crime.
Ssekate maintained this is particularly so in situations where the exercise of these rights is likely to result in conflict of interests of parties involved or affected, or put innocent lives, and property, in imminent danger.
“It is for this reason that Section 32(1) of the Police Act empowers the Police to regulate the conduct of public meetings and processions. In executing its regulatory function in regard to public meetings and processions, the Police require organizers of public meetings and processions to notify the Police, in advance of any intended public meeting or procession.”
Ssekate warned the general public not to be lured into participating in an illegal activity by going to Parliament without informing the concerned authorities.
“The Police shall continue to cooperate with the public, and other security agencies, to maintain law and order, prevent crime, and ensure the safety and security of the country,” said Ssekate.
Police have in the past clashed with Civil Society members and opposition politicians during protests.
Click here to see the video.
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Updated on 2013-05-09 09:25
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