Opposition Members of Parliament on Thursday started signing a motion seeking to censure the Minister of Security, Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi for allegedly abdicating responsibility in the face of torture of Ugandans by security operatives.
Led by the Leader of Opposition Mathias Mpuuga, a section of MPs in the presence of a Senior Sergeant –at –Arms, Godfrey Kidi launched the censure motion signing exercise. Out of the total 529 MPs in the 11th Parliament, the Opposition requires MP 176 signatures for the censure motion to succeed.
Some of those who have already signed are the Opposition Chief Whip, John Baptist Nambeshe, Mityana Woman MP Joyce Bagala, Kassanda Woman MP Flavia Kalule Nabagabe, Soroti East Division MP Moses Attan, Kassanda North MP Patrick Nsamba, Amuru Woman MP Lucy Akello, Jinja West MP Timothy Batuwa, Buhweju County MP Francis Mwijukye and others.
After the exercise, the document on which MPs are appending the signatures was returned to the Sergeant-at-Arms office at parliament where individual MPs can go and sign, according to Mpuuga.
Similarly, Mpuuga launched the complaints books that the Opposition resolved to use at every Constituency, for citizens to officially record their complaints regarding human rights abuses.
He presented copies to Opposition Party Whips also noting that individual MPs are to access copies for use in their constituencies.
The Opposition revealed the move to censure Muwhezi on Tuesday as their next action being taken as part of a two weeks boycott of plenary sittings that was declared last week on Thursday. “We have resolved to invoke rule 109 of our Rules of Procedure and Article 118 of the Constitution to censure the Minister of Security because over the last one and half years has been receiving complaints from the public…I laid documents in Parliament in his presence over torture, forced disappearances, murders and he did not respond,” Mpuuga told journalists then.
An official notice of censure seen by Uganda Radio Network- URN was lodged to the Clerk of Parliament, Speaker, and Deputy Speaker’s office on 8th February. Mpuuga accuses the Minister of Security of totally abdicating his responsibility, breach of public duty, and that the Opposition finds him unfit to continue being in occupation of a sensitive public office.
Mpuuga’s notice indicates that Minister Muhwezi has violated the oath of allegiance and office by condoning human rights violations including enforced disappearances, torture while in detention, and extrajudicial killings.
In the past few weeks, several pictures and videos of citizens have been circulating on different media with reported torture by security forces while in detention. The most recent case is that of Novelist, Kakwenza Rukirabasaija and Samuel Masereka, the National Unity Platform –NUP Coordinator in Kasese district who displayed torture marks on their bodies received under detention.
This is not the first time that the Opposition in Parliament is moving to censure different Ministers. In the past parliaments, different Opposition leaders sought to censure Ministers but the process collapsed after failing to raise the required signatures due to their decimal number in parliament.
In 2013, a motion seeking to censure the then, Kampala Minister Frank Tumwebaze flopped after only 20 MPs signed out of the required 125 for the censure to go ahead during the 9th Parliament.
Another censure motion against former Security Minister, Gen. Elly Tumwine collapsed after a section of Members of Parliament faulted their colleagues for shying away from the censure process. Tumwine was being accused of contempt of Parliament.
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