Uganda’s Parliament back in session March 22. Will Anti-gay bill be debated?

According to the New Vision:

THE Speaker of Parliament, Edward Kiwanuka Sekandi, has summoned MPs to report to the House on March 22.

Hellen Kaweesa, the public relations manager of Parliament, said the clerk to Parliament had already notified all the MPs to return and handle unfinished business.

Last year, Sekandi sent Parliament on recess to allow MPs get enough time for their campaigns. The Bills to be debated include the parliamentary pensions amendments Bill of 2010, the anti-homosexuality Bill and the retirements benefits authority Bill.

This sitting will be the first since the Constitutional Court kicked out 77 MPs from the House for refusing to vacate their seats before defected to other parties.

The 8th Parliament, whose term expires in two months time, has remained with only 255 MPs.

This is of concern given that The New Vision’s majority ownership is the Ugandan government. I suspect that opponents and proponents of the bill will be jockeying for their agenda over the next several weeks.

I reported recently that Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee Chair Stephen Tashobya was unsure if the bill would come up. In light of the New Vision report, I asked him if the bill might now make the agenda. He told me that the Parliament would indeed reconvene on March 22 but that the agenda had not yet been decided. He said, “What I can say is that we have a lot of work to get done and if there is time to get to that bill (the Anti-Homosexuality Bill) then we will look at it, but if there is no time, then we won’t be able to this session.” Tashobya added that the agenda would not be worked out until Parliament reconvenes and that he could not confirm anything at this point.

Perhaps other Uganda watchers could help handicap this situation but it seems to me that the public status is going to remain cloudy through the Spring.