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Uganda Parliamentarians Debate Suspension of Two Ministers

  • Douglas Mpuga

In Uganda, the parliament today discussed a motion to suspend the prime minister and the internal affairs minister.

The move to suspend Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and Internal Affairs Minister Hillary Onek is designed to help the committee investigating them on allegations of accepting bribes from oil companies.

Last month the parliament resolved that the two ministers should step aside until the investigations are complete. “The two ministers, unfortunately in their wisdom, decided to regard a parliamentary resolution,” said Gerald Karuhanga, a member of parliament representing youth.

He said the two ministers, who are members of parliament, should respect the institution. “Today the resolution is more candid,” the MP said. “They should be disciplined by being suspended from parliament for a period when this committee is investigating.”

Karuhanga said there was a lot of pressure from the executive on members of parliament to not go ahead with the debate on this motion. “Many members are beginning to change their position which they made a few days ago and some are hesitant to speak out.”

He said parliament is not asking the ministers to resign but to step aside during the duration of the investigation. “The prime minister,” he said, “is in position to summon any government departmental head, such as the head of criminal investigation or inspector general of police.”
"Hillary Onek is the minister of internal affairs," Karuhanga said, “The entire police force is under him.”

He wondered how it was possible for ministers to be investigated while they still hold office. “There cannot be an independent inquiry as long as these two are still in office,” he said.

When parliament adjourned for the day, it referred the matter to the rules committee to determine whether the ministers were in contempt of parliament. Discussion will resume tomorrow.

Last month graft allegations enraged Ugandan lawmakers and they voted on a motion to slap a moratorium on the execution of any new oil deals.

The development leaves the key deal in balance as Uganda awaits the beginning of up to $10 billion in oil development projects in the Lake Albertine rift.