News / Africa

Rift Between Ugandan President, Parliament Widens

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, November 30, 2012.
Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, November 30, 2012.
The death of a member of parliament in Uganda has sparked anger against the president, with several MPs accusing his government of murder. The dead woman's boyfriend has been charged with manslaughter, and an inquest is due to begin soon.

Uganda’s parliament has been rocked by scandal, arrests and rumors of poisoning in recent weeks, as lawmakers argue over the death of 24 year-old opposition MP Cerinah Nebanda.  The young woman’s boyfriend was arrested in Kenya, and has been charged this week with manslaughter.

Nebanda died in a Kampala hospital in mid-December.  Now a group of MPs is calling for parliament to be summoned out of recess to debate the death.  Nebanda had been openly critical of President Yoweri Museveni’s handling of oil contracts, and some are saying she was murdered.

But a government-led autopsy concluded that Nebanda died from taking cocaine and heroin. Museveni has lashed out at those claiming the government poisoned the MP, calling them idiots and fools. “So anybody who says we kill unarmed people is an idiot.  He’s an idiot, he’s a fool, he’s despiseable," he said.  "And they will know what it means to fight the National Resistance Movement.”

Several opposition MPs have already been arrested for making inflammatory statements about the death.  These arrests, along with the president’s comments, have driven a wedge between the president and parliament, as MP Medard Segona told a local television station in late December.

“Parliament is under attack.  The president said when he was in the bush, he was not under any kind of oversight.  We want parliament to come back [and] convene, so that we either, one, move to save Uganda, or we are arrested from parliament as the president promised,” Segona stated.

MPs have already collected the 125 signatures required for parliament to be recalled, although several parliamentarians say their signatures were forged.

Government spokesman Fred Opolot says the recall is unnecessary and calls the poisoning accusations “ridiculous.”  The governing National Resistance Movement (NRM) does not kill its opponents, he says, pointing to opposition leader Kizza Besigye.

“Kizza Besigye has been extremely vocal against President Museveni’s regime.  He has been.  And Kizza Besigye is alive and kicking in Uganda," Opolot asserted. "Would he have been killed by government?  Absolutely not.  It is not the principle of the NRM government to kill its opponents.”

A judge has been appointed this week to lead an official inquest into Nebanda’s death.  The government had earlier blocked attempts to take forensic samples out of the country for independent examination.

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Comment Sorting
by: Moses from: Uganda
January 15, 2013 9:54 AM
I have never seen a statesman ranting like President Museveni did that day. One would think the man was complaining about missing food in his home. At this point i don't know who to blame for his upbringing -the parent or the guardian? Language not expected from a civilized citizen of the republic of Uganda was found and uttered with ease from a statesman. What do we have for a President?

by: Godfrey Silas Garvey Olan from: Lesotho
January 12, 2013 2:27 PM
The reaction of President Museveni to this incident is not surprising at all. The man is too arrogant. He calls Ugandans idiots, fools and despiseable. When will he ever learn to be diplomatic. Remember no body has a monopoly of knowledge except God. What is the National Resistance Movement to Ugandans? It is not Uganda. That's Museveni's private movement. Does he want the movement to wipe out Ugandans who want to speak the truth? Fred Opolot is a liar. The reason Kizza Besigye has not been killed is that he is another bird of the same feather. How many unarmed Ugandans have been killed, by the MRN? Where they killing chickens in the bush?

by: Jonathan Egalal from: Kenya
January 09, 2013 12:43 PM
Musevni has terminated most of the people against his monopolistic Government which being run just like a company or an organization belonging to a particular person,he does things without a bi-partnership of Ugandans and he treats MPs just like his employees,he does not consider the Mps as the representatives of the people of Uganda thus he pushes for for drafting of the new laws that favor himself and his familys' interest yet Ugandans are suffering whoever comes critical against his deeds he murders.Fred Opolots' remarks on Dr.Besigye are fake they well much aware that Museveni can not murder the Main opposition leader in the country because it will incite violence but still the pepper spray that was sprayed to Dr.Besigye in 2011 still it was poisonous.let them stop fooling the international community as they had fooled before.Here the good reason is his own Members of Parliament of his ruling party or i may call a company who have now come out criticizing him not the opposition MPs,if it was oppositions MPs then one could doubt but his party MPs whom he sponsors to Parliamentary elections accusing him so there is no question.

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