Uganda’s Speaker of Parliament Suspends Meetings Over Unruly Behavior

UPDATE: NTV has a report on the suspension of sessions:

In an surprising move, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga suspended sessions of Parliament due to the contentious Tuesday setting. The chaotic session was cut short by Kadaga due to rowdy behavior on the part of some MPs who were unhappy with the re-introduction of a clause to a bill on the petroleum sector which would give the Executive branch control of the nation’s growing oil industry. Here are the details from the Parliament website:

The Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon. Kadaga Rebecca has suspended sittings of the House and directed the Parliament Committee on Rules Privileges and Discipline to review the behaviour of MPs in Tuesday’s Sitting.

In her address to Parliament November 28, the Speaker described the conduct exhibited by Members in yesterday’s prematurely adjourned House as unparliamentarily, unruly and disorderly. She said the behaviour exhibited by some MPs was beneath the dignity and honour expected of Honourable Members.

“Honourable Members, yesterday I prematurely adjourned the House because the atmosphere was not conducive for handling any meaningful business. Some honourable Members were rowdy, involved in heckling, shouting slogans and generally disrupted the proceedings of Parliament. ,” she told legislators.

The Speaker reminded MPs to follow the provisions in the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure that cater for the behaviour of Members during debate, and ensure that there is order and discipline on the part of Members when handling any business.

“In a democratic institution like ours, it is expected that members across the divide will listen to each other, respect the others view and ultimately negotiate until a consensus is arrived at. When a consensus cannot be arrived at, then the last option that can be explored is voting through any of the ways provided for in the Rules of Procedure. This is the behaviour which I expect from honourable members”, Speaker Kadaga added.

The Rules, Privileges and Discipline Committee has been directed by the Speaker to review and analyse video recordings of the house with a view of recommending punitive action against any members whose behaviour could have disrupted the proceedings of Parliament.

The Committee is to table its report before Parliament on Monday December 3, 2012.

If indeed Kadaga makes good on this action, then debate on the oil bills, the Accountants Bill and now the report of the Privileges and Discipline Committee will most likely come before any action on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Contentious Day Ahead for Uganda’s Parliament; Anti-Homosexuality Bill Still On Deck; UPDATE on Death Penalty

As noted yesterday, MPs find themselves embroiled in a contentious fight over a clause in one of the petroleum bills. That fight may stall Parliament for days and keep consideration of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill off the floor.

On today’s order paper, the anti-gay bill remains the first item of business to follow current business. However, current business still includes two bills related to the oil sector and the Accountants Bill, as well as a report on the energy sector. A public march may take place today which could spill over into Parliament. All of these items should require several days to resolve, if not longer.

See yesterday’s post for more detail.

RE: Death Penalty

Some reports are questioning earlier reports triggered by a BBC report that the death penalty has been removed from the bill. The truth is that the bill is the same bill it has always been. It cannot be amended until the committee report is presented to the floor of the Parliament. Even if the committee calls for removing that clause, the MPs would have to endorse that change. Presumably, they would vote for a change favored by the maker of the bill (David Bahati) but this is not a sure thing. Observers around the world should know that the bill is unchanged at this point. However, it could be changed and the committee involved have signaled that they intend to suggest changes. Until it hits the floor, the bill is the same as ever.

If the rules have changed in the past several months, I am open to be corrected. If I am wrong, perhaps a MP reading here can enlighten me. However, this information comes directly from several MPs and the parliament’s spokespeople.

Speaker Adjourns Parliament Amid Chaos Over Oil Bill (UPDATED with Video)

According to the Facebook page for the Parliament of Uganda, Speaker Kadaga adjourned the session early amid shouting MPs over how to deal with a controversial clause in one of the oil bills before that body (confirmed by a call to Kampala). Here are the status reports:

Parliament moves to consider a motion by the Minister for energy to have clause 9 of the oil exploration bill reconsidered.

Reconsideration of clause 9 will have an effect on almost 80% of all the other clauses in the bill, MP Niwagaba tells Parliament.If we recommit clause 9, we shall have to reconsider the entire bill.

Originally clause 9 of the bill provided powers to the Minister to grant licenses to oil Companies;

The Minister 9. Functions of the MinisterThe Minister shall be responsible for—(a) granting and revoking licences;(b) initiating, developing and implementing oil and gas policy;(c) submitting draft legislation to Parliament;(d) issuing petroleum Regulations;(e) negotiating and endorsing petroleum agreements;(f) approving field development plans;(g) promoting and sustaining transparency in the petroleum sector;(h) approving data management systems; and(i) any other function incidental or consequential to his or her functions.

The contention on clause 9 stems from the fact that Parliament had provided powers to grant licenses to the Petroleum Authority of Uganda and not the minister. The Minister now wants Parliament to revert this decision and have powers restored.

House adjourned as MPs turned chaotic. The Speaker of Parliament has adjourned today’s sitting prematurely as legislators failed to agree on the mode of recommitting clause 9 of the oil exploration bill.

The Speaker adjourned following shouting matches between legislators on both sides of the house. MPs could not agree on whether to debate the clause or move into voting on the reconsideration of the clause.

The pattern for Uganda’s Parliament is to take business in order. The implication here is that the Parliament will return tomorrow to debate over the oil bills which could take days to resolve. As noted earlier this morning, two oil bills and the Accountants Bill are ahead of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill on today’s agenda.

For more on the controversy, see this NTV report:

One MP said that the oil bill is the most important decision this parliament will make. For an explanation of the issues involved see this Fox Business report. Essentially, the Parliament is resisting the involvement of the Executive branch and prefers that an independent petroleum authority make contracts.

The call from some MPs for a public march on Parliament is another indicator that this issue could stall Parliament for days.

Anti-Homosexuality Bill is Next on the Order of Business for Uganda’s Parliament

According to today’s agenda, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill will be the next bill considered by Uganda’s Parliament. Today, the legislative body is slated to act on two bills relating to the oil industry and the Accountants Bill. These bills have been on the agenda for several days and should be nearing a final vote. Given the prior work done on those three bills, the anti-gay bill could come up as soon as tomorrow.

It appears that Speaker Kadaga has given the Anti-Homosexuality Bill higher priority than other business since it was first listed last week. Note the position of the bill on today’s order paper:




Last week on the listing of business to come, the anti-gay bill was listed third after the motion to bail out the steel mill and the adoption of the report on the energy sector. Today the bill is listed ahead of those two items and is the first item to be considered next.

Given the scope of the oil bills and the Accountants Bill, it is not certain that the anti-gay measure will come up tomorrow. However, it appears that the bill will now be the next bill considered after the current business is resolved.

What Uganda Should Be Worrying About

At the same time Uganda is threatening to make consensual same-sex relations punishable by death or life in prison, the nation is facing a jump in the rate of HIV infections. The Ugandan Parliament website reported today on a Ministry of Health briefing which disclosed that the HIV rate has increased to 7.3% in 2011 from 6.4% in 2004.

Given the rush to enact a law depriving gays of life and liberty, one might think that the driver of this increase is homosexuality. However, that is not the case. According to the article, married couples are driving the chamges.

Dr.Musinguzi warned that the HIV/AIDS rates that had gone down in the 1990s have now shot up and require urgent redress. The new statistics point at Women bearing the biggest burden of the disease with 55% of the new infections discovered amongst women.

The research attributes the trend to multiple sexual partners as the key driver to the spread of the disease. 80% of the men interviewed by health experts accepted leaving with concurrent multiple sexual partners while 68% of the women lived the same lifestyle.

The Speaker of Parliament Rt.Hon. Rebecca Kadaga who officiated at the opening of the dialogue re-echoed the need to lay new strategies to reverse the HIV/AIDS trend.

“Although a number of achievements have been made in the fight against AIDS, the epidemic seems to have shifted from single young persons to those married and in long term relationships. I am also concerned that the rich women are now more vulnerable to HIV than others. This is a worrying trend,” the Speaker noted.

Gays are a negligible aspect of the HIV picture in Uganda but the Parliament is wasting time debating homosexuality. The MPs should be spending their time worrying about the sexual behavior of straights. It is beyond belief that the Ugandan Parliament is risking donor funding over the Anti-Homosexuality Bill when the more immediate issue for HIV is infidelity among straights in long term relationships.