Recalling LAW Coalition’s demands and Deputy Speaker Tayebwa’s “go to hell” apology
Last Updated on: 26th March 2022, 05:33 pm
The LAW Coalition’s demand[s] did not go well with the then Government Chief Whip also the Ruhinda North MP in Mitooma district, Thomas Tayebwa.
By Milton Emmy Akwam
Kampala – March 26, 2022: Up to Friday, March 25, 2022, the contests for the offices of speaker and deputy speaker of the 11th parliament were very hostile.
The two offices became vacant on March 20 (EAT) when the former speaker Jacob Oulanyah passed on from the United States of America where he had been taken for specialized medical treatment.
Some hours into the Friday, March 25th election of the succeeding speaker, the then deputy speaker of parliament, Annet Anita Among resigned her position to contest for the vacant office left by Oulanyah.
Initially, on March 22, over 100 Members of Parliament from Lango, Acholi, and West Nile sub-regions had a meeting in Kampala to discuss and find a solution following the speaker’s abrupt death.
The way forward was ‘sole’: to have Oulanyah succeeded by someone from Northern Uganda since he was voted to serve for ‘five years as speaker.
After their meeting, the MPs, under what has now become so popular among some Lango communities as Lango, Acholi, and West Nile (LAW Coalition 2022), demanded that those [MPs of the ruling party] who showed interest to vie for the position of the speaker be endorsed by the NRM top decision making organ, the Central Executive Committee (CEC).
By end of Tuesday, March 22, thirteen (13) Members of Parliament, all from the NRM party had expressed interest in replacing Jacob Oulanyah.
Felix Okot Ogong (Dokolo South), Jane Ruth Aceng (minister of health, Lira City Woman MP), Hamson Denis Obua (Ajuri, state minister for sports), Anita Among Annette (deputy speaker, Bukedea Woman MP), among others appeared before the NRM electoral commission chairperson, Dr. Tanga Odoi.
“If CEC fails to select any candidate from among them, the 102 Members of Parliament that form the Acholi, Lango, and West Nile Parliamentary groups shall not turn up for the elections of the Speaker on Friday the 25th of March 2022. We shall instead congregate at the Rt. Hon Speaker Jacob Oulanyah’s residence to continue to console the family and mourn with our brothers and sisters from the three sub-regions,” a joint statement by LAW Coalition chairpersons read.
Another condition the Coalition made to CEC was that the position of the speaker of the 11th Parliament is reserved for Northern Uganda.
“Northern Uganda overwhelmingly voted for the NRM government in the recently concluded General elections in 2021. The speakership position was allocated based on election performance majorly attributed to Hon Jacob Oulanyah and regional balance. We have not got an opportunity to serve our country through this position. In addition, precedence of regional balance was recently demonstrated in the EALA by-elections by CEC. We expect the same to be maintained,” the Coalition firmly added.
“The three Parliamentary groups from Northern Uganda have unanimously endorsed all persons who have expressed interest from the Acholi, Lango, and West Nile sub-regions. The Northern Region has therefore expressed interest in the speakership position through them. We expect CEC to select one name amongst them who will be forwarded for election. If more than one name is selected from our list we demand a meeting to come up with one name as the NRM flag bearer,” they further demanded.
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However, the above demand[s] did not go well with the then Government Chief Whip also the Ruhinda North MP in Mitooma district, Thomas Tayebwa.
Tayebwa, before he was elected the Deputy Speaker of Parliament on Friday had told the LAW Coalition 2022 or the MPs from Northern Uganda to “go to hell” with their demands especially on having Oulanyah’s successor come from their region.
His statement angered MPs from the region. On Friday, March 25, Dr. Samuel Opio Acuti (MP, Kole North) who doubles as the Secretary-General of Lango Parliamentary Group (LPG) issued a statement, demanding now the Deputy Speaker to apologize and withdraw his statement.
The deadline for apologizing and retracting his words was March 28, 2022.
“By writing a petition, the members of Parliament from Northern Uganda representing 7,437,790 people exercised their Constitutional rights enshrined under Article 29 which provides for freedom to petition, and further Article 32 which provides for affirmative action,” Dr. Hon. Samuel Opio Acuti, Secretary-General of LPG said, Friday.
“It is with utter shock that after making public this petition, the Government Chief Whip, Hon Thomas Tayebwa resorted to making media remarks in which he stated, “If your argument is that someone should be voted because he is from Northern Uganda, go to hell.”
“I have obtained voice recordings to this effect,” Samuel Opio Acuti told TND News earlier.
These remarks, he said, are “derogatory, deprecatory and disparaging”. “They are brutish, censorious and contumelious and not just made against the MPs from Northern Uganda but the 7.44 million people that live in Acholi, Lango and West Nile as applied by the principle: ‘an attack on one is an attack on all.’
He quoted Rule 15 of the Rules of Procedure in Parliament provides for the whips and their roles which includes, acting as intermediaries between the party and its members and as tellers during divisions. Read more here.
In his speech as the Deputy Speaker, Tayebwa apologized to the Northern Uganda MPs for remarks he had made.
“When we are doing parliamentary work it should be ‘we’ not ‘I’. The moment we follow that advice of ‘we’ all of us shall be winners…,” he said, adding that, “Colleagues, as you know this has been a very difficult period for all of us, some of us in a heat of a moment, made statements that annoyed our brothers and sisters from Northern Uganda. Personally, I made some statements when I was trying to explain how Jacob would respond to some of the issues.”
“Colleagues, I sincerely and wholeheartedly apologize for anyone who was hurt,” Tayebwa said.