Members of Parliament on Thursday successfully made President Yoweri Museveni leave the August House before they could commence voting for the deputy speaker.
The hot race is between Kampala Central MP Muhammad Nsereko and incumbent deputy speaker Jacob Oulanyah.
The objection to Museveni’s presence in the house started even before he arrived at the legislative house in Kampala.
As the session opened, opposition Forum for Democratic Change Secretary General Nandala Mafabi raised a point of procedure to the deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma who was presiding.
“All the times I have been an MP, I have never seen the President preside on the taking of oath of Speaker and Deputy Speaker,” Mafabi directed the remark to Kavuma.
“Why of all days is the President here? It is not part of procedure,” he added.
The deputy Attorney General interjected: “Is it in order for the honourable to raise this procedure issue w/out raising the rule that prohibits what he’s talking about?”
The dissatisfied Mafabi shot back: “What kind of Attorney General will you be if you don’t understand a point of procedure?”
Hon Joshua Anywarach, MP Padyere County in Nebbi District moved that rule 5 to suspend Secret Ballot be considered so MPs vote by show of hands in the full glare of the president.
Speaker Kadaga dismissed it saying there were no grounds for such.
While opening the session, Speaker Kadaga had invited President Museveni to stay and witness the voting process.
“You are welcome to stay for the voting of the deputy Speaker,” Kadaga said to the president.
“Under which procedure do we define the presence of the president in the house?” a legislator questioned the Speaker.
Kadaga replied that the President administers oath of the deputy speaker.
“That is why he [Museveni] is here,” she explained.
Save for the president’s presence, MPs were also uncomfortable with the idea of voting under the full gaze of CCTV cameras.
The cameras were covered before voting which was by secret ballot commenced.
Museveni walks out
Meanwhile, after questioning the rules of procedure under which he was invited into the room, Museveni excused and moved out.
The president mumbled something inaudible to Speaker Kadaga and left the hall.
In the recent past, President Museveni hasn’t attended the 1st sitting of a new Parliament.
For the first time since 1996, Museveni today administered oaths and handed over instruments of power to the Speaker [and Deputy Speaker of Parliament later].
FDC has last laugh
Opposition FDC said the attempt to suspend secret ballot was a clear case of “appalling political gamesmanship”.
“The tawdry spectacle was put to an end as Museveni walked out disappointed, loaded dice cannot be rigged in his favour,” the party tweeted.
Daniel Kalinaki, the Africa Editor at Nation Media Group and Author of the book “Kizza Besigye & Uganda’s Unfinished Revolution, noticed the drama too.
“I rather like the idea of M7 supervising his “pilau” investment. As if “Omugaiga ku site” [a rich man at the site],” Kalinaki tweeted.
The president later re-entered the hall towards the end of the voting session, ready to swear in the next deputy speaker.