Kampala, Uganda – A letter written by Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda about the dates for the election of the new Speaker of Parliament was unnecessary, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has said.
The Clerk to Parliament last week released the swearing-in program of the MPs to the 11th Parliament indicating that the process for the administration of oaths will take four days between May 17 and May 20, 2021. This means that the Speaker would be elected on May 21, 2021, after the prorogation of Parliament.
But Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda wrote to the Speaker of Parliament asking her to reschedule the dates for the election of the Speaker to allow members to caucus. However, Kadaga says that although they had written to the President and proposed May 21, 2021, as the date for the election of the Speaker, they never got any feedback.
She says that under article 95, between the prorogation and the first sitting, there is a window of seven days that the election of Speaker can happen, and that the dates cannot be determined by the Parliamentary Commission, to which the letter was addressed.
She says that the constitution provides that the President shall appoint a date and place of the new Parliament within seven days from the expiry of the old Parliament. This means that if the swearing-in is concluded on May 20, the President has seven days to call for the first sitting which is presided over by the Chief Justice or an officer designated by the chief justice.The race for the office of the Speaker is heated up with incumbent Speaker Rebecca Kadaga seeking to retain her seat, while Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah seeks to unseat her.
Meanwhile, the Speaker also defended the move by Parliament to spend over a billion Shillings on the tent housing the Parliament chambers, questioning if Ugandans want Parliament to sit under trees.
In March last year, Parliament sittings were shifted from the main chambers to the parking lot to observe the COVID-19 standard operating procedures. The legislature has since then been paying 8.5 million Shillings to hire the tents every day.
Earlier, Parliament’s Acting Director Communications and Public Affairs, Helen Nanteza Kaweesa said that the expenditure was unavoidable because Parliament needed to continue sitting but also respecting COVID-19 restrictions. She added that Parliament plans to buy its tent in the next financial to reduce the expense. URN