Uganda Watch: Parliament Passes Oil Bill in Stealth Session

Earlier in the week, Parliament spokeswoman Helen Kawesa told me that Parliament would not meet today (Friday). There is no order paper at the Parliament website. However, the MPs did meet and passed an oil bill that gives much power to the executive branch. Blogger Jim Burroway alerted me to this fact and Reuters has the details:

KAMPALA, Dec 7 (Reuters) – Ugandan lawmakers passed new legislation on Friday meant to regulate the country’s emerging oil sector but critics said the law would invest too much control in the hands of the executive.

The Reuters’ report highlights the lack of transparency which the bill allows.

Burroway believes the Anti-Homosexuality Bill will now distract the MPs and the public away from the bad oil legislation. He believes this is by design and directed by President Museveni’s executive branch. The clearest effect of the action on the oil bill is that it moves the Anti-Homosexuality Bill closer to consideration on the floor. Burroway may be correct when he argues that the anti-gay bill will generate so much attention that most will forget about the power grab just completed by the executive branch with the collusion of the ruling party in Parliament. ┬áIt is not that the executive branch actually wants the bill to pass. However, it may be that generating loud controversy over the bill is the real aim.

However, those in Parliament who do want the bill to pass are a step closer to their objective now that the oil bill is out of the way.


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.