Now a section of lawmakers have embarked on the process of collecting signatures to recall Parliament from recess to urgently address contrary to its programme of recalling MPs in Novemner.
The Jinja Municipality MP Paul Mwiru says that as people’s representatives in Parliament they cannot sit back as Ugandan soldiers die in South Sudan under unclear circumstances.
Mwiru revealed that after receiving reports of over 1000 deaths of UPDF soldiers in the troubled South Sudan, he has communicated to the speaker of Parliament and the Director legal about the exercise of collecting signatures from MPs in order to recall parliament. Parliament is expected to resume business on the 18th of next month.
He says that it’s becoming a habit for President Museveni to violate article 210 (d) to deploy Ugandan soldiers without the approval of parliament.
“What we are saying is that Mr. Museveni is increasingly overthrowing the Constitution. He did it before, he is doing again and to him it means nothing,”said Mwiru.
Quoting the 1996 UPDF deployment in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mwiru said that over 2000 Ugandan soldiers died and this loss has never been accounted for because the deployment was never approved by Parliament. He further said that lives of Ugandans continue to perish in similar circumstances at the expense of selfish gains of the President.
Mwiru said that working with his colleague the shadow minister for Defence Hassan Kaps Fungaroo they want parliament to debate on the matter and take decision.
“Now we have lost soldiers, who takes responsibility? And that is why African leaders do not leave power. You go to Congo, you kill 2000 people, you are accountable as an individual because there was no parliamentary approval, you go the Southern Sudan over 1000 die who is actually responsible – it’s an individual. Am not demanding for much, am saying let Parliament be recalled,” Mwiru stressed
Mwiru is confident that the exercise of collecting signature to recall the house from recess would not be as difficult as in the previous attempts of recalling Parliament to censure ministers. He adds that even those other MPs who think it was proper to deploy the UPDF should embrace the process to present their justification for the deployment as a people’s representative that have an accountability responsibility even on the country’s military issues.
Mwiru says that the principle of evacuating Ugandans is paramount and it would be supported by all but the government of Uganda meddling into the internal politics of South Sudan using the sons, daughters and resources of Ugandans without the approval of Parliament.
The proponents of recalling parliament from recess today say that waiting for the 18th of February (next month) when parliament is to officially resume business is not worthwhile because it would be putting Ugandan troops currently in South Sudan at great risk since already some substantial numbers have lost their lives.
The UPDF spokesperson Paddy Ankunda confirmed that the UPDF had made additional deployment of troops with heavy fighting equipment but solely for evacuation of Ugandans still in South Sudan.
Ankunda further dismissed reports of deaths of any of the UPDF soldiers as alleged. “There is no causality at all, that is wishful thinking and it should be dismissed,”said Ankunda.
The shadow Minister for Defence Hassan Kaps Fungaroo said people in Northern Uganda have started receiving bodies of their relatives who have died while fighting in South Sudan.
Fungaroo also called on the rebels led by the former South Sudan Vice President Dr. Riek Machar to protect the innocent Ugandans still Southern Sudan instead of punishing them for the actions by the Ugandan Authorities.
The lawmaker who also represents Obongi County in Parliament says that the rebels should provide arrangements necessary to protect the Ugandans who are within their control.
He adds that according to the information got from people fleeing South Sudan, Ugandans who are in areas now controlled by the rebels are taking punishment for our country’s engagement.
“Ugandans who are still there, are punished in the attempt to punish the whole of Uganda for deploying troops there. And I think that one is not correct to expose civilians who are not armed, to any danger or torture. If you punish them, if you hurt them, this is not good,” added Fungaroo
Other MPs think it is not worthwhile for Parliament to be recalled from recess because it was an emergency and the force was deployed in the south Sudan to evacuate Ugandans whose lives are threatened.
Meanwhile the effect of the war in the neighbouring country continue to spill over to Uganda, with the latest being the refugee influx at the estimate of about 30, 000 refugees already in the northern parts of the country by the end of last week (Friday 10th January).