Drama as MPs Welcome Mbabazi to The Back Bench

1692 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
At 3:21pm Mbabazi pulled over in the parking lot of Parliament being driven in a Toyota Land Cruiser registration number UAS 969J. Police officers on duty stood up and saluted him. Northern Youth MP Evelyn Anite showed him which route to take as Mbabazi smiled and complied. At 3:31pm Mbabazi entered the House. A standing ovation ensued on the floor of Parliament. Leader of Opposition Cecilia Ogwal moved a motion that Mbabazi be welcomed to the backbench. Oulanyah ruled Ogwal out of order saying there is nothing on the floor to debate about.

Just days after being dropped from cabinet, outgoing Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi has today turned up at Parliament and took a sit in the back bench. 

This is the first time Mbabazi is becoming a back-bencher in Parliament since 1994 when he first joined cabinet. 

In a mini-cabinet reshuffle on Friday morning, President Museveni appointed Dr Rugunda to replace Mbabazi as Prime Minister with immediate effect.
 
In a letter dated September 18, 2014, Museveni informed the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga to organize for Dr Rugunda's vetting. In the same letter, the president thanked Mbabazi for serving in government. Rugunda's appointment ended Mbabazi's three-year tenure as Leader of government business, having been appointed premier in June 2011.
 
The decision by the president to drop Mbabazi came at a time an apparent power struggle between the two NRM allies threatens to tear the ruling party apart. Mbabazi has always been suspected of nursing ambitions to take on his boss in the 2016 elections, something the outgoing prime minister has dismissed as untrue.

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At ruling party legislators' retreat in Kyankwanzi in February this year several Members of Parliament accused Mbabazi of undermining his party chairman and moved to sign a resolution endorsing Museveni as the only party candidate. Mbabazi, the secretary general of the NRM, was among the last MPs to sign the petition.
 
Having worked with Museveni for over 40 years, twenty of those as a member of cabinet, Mbabazi was seen among the most trusted ministers and advisors to the President. Many kept guessing how the Kinkizi West MP would react to his dismissal from cabinet after the two NRM party leaders disagreed.
 
But on Tuesday afternoon, just four days after being dropped Mbabazi turned up at Parliament as usual. At 3:21pm Mbabazi pulled over in the parking lot of Parliament without the lead car that had always escorted him as Prime Minister and before that as minister for Security and for Defence. He was being driven in a Toyota Land Cruiser with ordinary number plates UAS 969J.

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Mbabazi appeared to get everyone by surprise that the Police did not search his vehicle. They were stranded on how to treat him. He approached the Metal Detector where all police officers on duty stood up and saluted him.

 
In the lobby, Northern Youth MP Evelyn Anite bumped into the former premier and showed excitement on seeing him. She quickly appointed herself as Usher to show him which route to take and Mbabazi smiled and complied. Anite was among the most vocal legislators during the February 2014 NRM retreat in Kyankwanzi, accusing Mbabazi of plotting against Museveni. She is remembered for kneeling down before Museveni, presenting a party resolution for the president to be the sole NRM candidate in the 2016 elections.
 
At 3:31pm Mbabazi entered the House much to the astonishment of everyone. A standing ovation ensued on the floor of Parliament, with both sides standing and clapping as he walked to take his seat.
 
Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah called for silence but no one seemed to listen to him as some NRM MPs shook Mbabazi's hands.
 
He settled in the second-last row next to Igara MP Michael Mawanda.  As Mbabazi took his new seat, Leader of Opposition Cecilia Ogwal moved a motion that Mbabazi be welcomed to the backbench and given chance to give his maiden speech as Backbencher.
 
Oulanyah ruled Ogwal out of order saying there is nothing on the floor to debate about. Oulanyah then quoted former Prime Minister, Prof Apollo Nsibambi, who once said all politicians, once voted into office, are permanent members of the departure lounge.
 
Before becoming Prime Minister, Mbabazi held several cabinet portfolios including Defence, Security, and Regional Cooperation. He also served as external security organisation director from 1986 to 1994.
 
He will go down as the shortest serving prime minister under Museveni, having occupied the office for three years and four months.  His immediate predecessor, Professor Apollo Nsibambi was premier for 12 years until May 24, 2011, while Kintu Musoke, the man Nsibambi replaced on April 5, 1999, was in the position for four years and five months. 

The other occupants of the office are George Cosmas Adyebo for three years and 10 months from January 22, 1991 to November 8, 1994, and Dr Samson Kisekka, Museveni's first premier who served for five years from January 1986 to January 1991. He was later appointed vice president from 1991 until 1994.