A leading Ugandan legislator says exiled army General David Sejusa could lose his seat in Parliament if he fails to attend parliamentary proceedings Wednesday.
Simon Mulongo, vice chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Defense and Internal Affairs, says Sejusa has not been present in parliament since he went into a self-imposed exile abroad.
Before he went into exile, Sejusa was coordinator for Uganda’s intelligence agencies at the president’s office. Sejusa told VOA he is unlikely to return to the East African country anytime soon, citing threats to his life.
Sejusa had demanded an investigation into what he said were rumors of a plot to assassinate administration officials opposed to President Yoweri Museveni’s alleged succession plan. The plan, Sejusa said, was to arrange for Museveni’s son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba, to succeed him as president.
Mulongo says parliament’s rule 101 stipulates conditions under which a lawmaker can be expelled for not being present in parliament for 15 consecutive sessions.
“There is a procedure that any member without any reasonable course [that] absents himself can actually be, by the rule of the speaker, be declared a non-member of parliament, and in this case General Sejusa is affected by that,” said Mulongo. “Then your seat is declared vacant, and consequently they have to hold [an] election to have you replaced.”
Mulongo’s comments came after Rebecca Kadaga, the parliament speaker in Uganda, issued an ultimatum demanding that Sejusa return to parliament on Wednesday.
Sejusa had earlier petitioned the speaker to extend his leave from parliament. But Kadaga was quoted by Uganda’s media as saying, “I hereby give you a warning for your continued absence from the House and accordingly require that you attend the house at the next sitting of Parliament.”
The lawmakers are scheduled to be in parliament Wednesday at 2pm local time.
Sejusa was elected to parliament by the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) Council. According to Mulongo, the army says Sejusa’s absence has nothing to do with official duties.
Mulongo denied that Sejusa was being singled out in a witch hunt.
“That means his absence is not justified and on that account, given the rules of the procedure, he has to be declared, if he does not appear, to lose his seat,” said Mulongo.
“Of course his absence has to do with possible subversive charges against him,” Mulongo continued. “If he appeared, of course he would be arrested for making [a] statement that could compromise national security and so he can be charged with treason, so he can’t actually appear.”
Mulongo says the speaker’s decision has nothing to do with the apparent support Sejusa appears to enjoy among other lawmakers.
“The issue is technically, really. It is about him not being able to explain, justifying reasons for his continued absence. Given that his absence has got to do with treasonable charges, members are quite quiet about that and just watching the situation unveil in a manner that it is now,” said Mulongo.