The speaker of Uganda’s parliament plans to decide this week whether four legislators expelled from the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) can still represent their constituencies in the legislative body.
The NRM petitioned speaker Rebecca Kadaga to declare the seats of the expelled ruling party lawmakers vacant.
The NRM accused the parliamentarians of creating intrigue within the party, campaigning for opposition parties during by-elections, publicly criticizing the party’s official stance, working as foreign agents, using foul language and spreading malicious propaganda.
Theodore Ssekikubo, one of the parliamentarians expelled from the NRM, denied the accusations.
“There is a problem - the problem being that party issues which are really internal are being superimposed on the national parliament,” Ssekikubo said.
“It is very clear that we are staying put, that we are members of parliament now,” Ssekikubo said. “It is up to the speaker to choose whether she wants to guide this constitution and this country under the rule of law, or to concede to the whims of particular individuals.”
Uganda’s constitution does not specify what happens when a lawmaker is expelled from a recognized political party.
Ssekikubo says the NRM wants to silence any dissent within the party. He contends that the ruling party’s petition to have them removed from parliament undermines the constitution.
“That is taking the law into their own hands. That is trampling their own constitution because this very constitution was made under the NRM government,” said Ssekikubo.
“If you are meant to uphold the constitutional order, protect it. Why don’t they follow the law?” he said.
Some political analysts say the speaker of parliament is under pressure to rule in favor of the ruling party, since she is a senior executive member of the NRM.
Ssekikubo says the expelled legislators will challenge the speaker’s decision if she rules in favor of the ruling party to remove them from parliament.
“Once it is declared that our seats are vacant, we shall proceed and go to the highest appellate court. We are still also considering whether we can appropriately file our matter to the East African Court of Justice,” said Ssekikubo.