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Opposition MPs Walk Out of Parliament in Protest Against Arrests of Party Leaders and Supporters

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Opposition MPs Walk Out of Parliament in Protest Against Arrests of Party Leaders and Supporters
Opposition MPs Walk Out of Parliament in Protest Against Arrests of Party Leaders and Supporters
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KAMPALA – Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Thomas Tayebwa, addressed Members of Parliament, emphasizing their inherent right to freely enter and exit the House. Tayebwa clarified that MPs do not require the permission of the presiding officer to access or leave the chamber, particularly if they find themselves uncomfortable with the proceedings.

This statement came in response to a walkout protest staged by opposition MPs. The protest was aimed at expressing their concerns over the ongoing arrests, kidnappings, and detentions of supporters of their party leaders.

Tayebwa stated, “This is a level you reach after interacting with the presiding officer; you don’t ambush the presiding officer in that manner on the floor. When we are in this House, no one asks me for permission, and no one has informed me that they intend to walk out. Therefore, those who wish to conduct parliamentary business should continue, while those who feel uncomfortable can exit.”

The Deputy Speaker’s remarks followed his efforts to restore order among the opposition MPs to allow the government to present a statement explaining the actions of the security forces. These efforts were met with rejection by the opposition, prompting Tayebwa to remind the Leader of the Opposition and his group that the presiding officer lacked the authority to prevent them from leaving the chamber.

Tayebwa emphasized that such matters should have been discussed between the Leader of the Opposition and his office before the decision to walk out was made. Furthermore, he clarified that, despite his role as the presiding officer, he had no authority to prevent any MP from exiting the chamber.

The acting Leader of the Opposition, Muwanga Kivumbi, who led the protest, declared that they would not continue attending Plenary sessions unless the government provided an explanation for the arrests of their leaders and colleagues.

Kivumbi stated, “As we gather here in this August House, on this auspicious day, the very principles of our independence have been gravely violated and challenged over the past few days. The Leader of the NUP, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, was recently taken from a plane and transported to his home. Additionally, the NUP offices were not only sealed off, but national leaders, from the Secretary-General to the Spokesperson, were arrested, and hundreds of our youth were detained,” before leaving the House in protest.