The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has come out to clarify on reasons why Parliament didn’t hold a special sitting for the late former Attorney General, Peter Nyombi.
Nyombi, also a former MP who was buried on Thursday was never accorded a tribute by MPs in the chambers of Parliament despite his body being brought to Parliament to lie in State on Wednesday.
This raised a lot of concern from the public leaving a lot of questions as to why Nyombi who served the country for a long period of time in such a high ranking position would be not accorded the privilege.
Kadaga in her letter on Thursday dismissed the comments made by the Government Chief whip, Ruth Nankibirwa on the matter noting that they were far from the truth.
Nankabirwa reportedly said the House failed to sit because both the Speaker and the Deputy were away.
“I would like to clarify on comments attributed to the government Chief Whip, Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa, where she is reported to have said that the reason MPs did not pay tribute to the former Attorney General and former Buruuli County MP was because the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker were away on official duty,” said the Speaker.
“The remarks are far from true and unfortunately have been widely picked up by mainstream media and social media forums,” added Kadaga.
The Speaker noted that, Parliament plenary sessions follow a calendar made prior by the Business Committee composed of the Speaker herself, the Deputy Speaker, Leader of Government Business (PM), Leader of the Opposition, Government Chief Whip, Chief Opposition Whip, other Party Whips, two Independent Members of Parliament and all Committee Chairpersons.
The Speaker notes that based on that calendar, Parliament was to be in session between 6th June and 10th October for the first meeting. The calendar for the Third Session was approved by the entire House and it had three meetings as well as when the House would be in recess.
The recess for the First Meeting of the Third Session dedicated to legislation had to run from 6th June to 10th October 2018, however commenced on the October 4th 2018 when Oulanyah, adjourned the House.
Kadaga also noted that only sitting MPs, the President and “any other” person proposed by the Executive would be entitled to lie in State and get special sitting tribute.
“It should be noted that the only persons entitled to lie in state and have a tribute are the sitting Members of Parliament and national leaders, like the President, and any others who the Government will have proposed.”
Kadaga noted that she wrote to Prime Minister Rugunda in 2014 to be guided on the class of national leaders or vital people whose bodies are entitled to the privilege of lying in state in the absence of a formal criterion.
Neither Museveni nor Rugunda, she says, replied to her. The first victim of this happened to be the late Peter Nyombi.
“It is therefore not correct for the Government Chief Whip to state that the reason the special sitting did not take place was because the Speaker and Deputy Speaker were away on official business,” the Speaker noted.
Kadaga said she recommended for a special tribute for late Nyombi to take place in November when MPs return from recess.
“When I was sent a letter requesting for the fallen member to be extended this courtesy, I recommended that Parliament would pay tribute to Hon. Nyombi at the beginning of the second meeting in November. I thought this was adequate.”
In an apparent rift between the Legislature and the Executive, Kadaga revealed that the government overstretched in bringing Peter Nyombi’s body to Parliament.
“Government however insisted the body should be brought to Parliament for the public to pay their respects. So, I granted the request as we await the commencement of the second meeting of the Third Session when the family will be invited and tribute paid.”
“This is therefore to set the record straight and to remind our stakeholders that Parliament has its schedule and it should not be dictated upon.”