Parliament Asks for Certified Copy of MP Kahonda Judgment Top story

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Chris Obore, the Director of Communication and Corporate Affairs in Parliament, says the speaker will act on Kahondas petition after receiving advise from the Legal Department.

The Legal Department of parliament has asked lawyers of the embattled Ruhinda County legislator, Dononzio Kahonda to furnish it with a certified copy of the court judgment to enable parliament to decide whether or not he loses his seat. The Jinja Chief Magistrate, John Francis Kaggwa sentenced Kahonda to nine months imprisonment after finding him guilty for forgery putting his seat in balance.

Article 80 paragraph 2 (e) of the constitution provides that a person is not qualified to be a member of parliament if that person is under a sentence of death or a sentence of imprisonment exceeding nine months imposed by a competent court without an option of a fine. Similarly Article 83 paragraph 1 (d) of the constitution provides that a member of parliament can vacate his or her seat if that person is absent from 15 consecutive sittings of parliament without the speaker's permission in writing. It also provides that a person can vacate his or her seat when unable to offer satisfactory explanation to the relevant parliamentary committee for his or her absence. 

On July 26, 2017, Kahonda's lawyers led by Caleb Mwesigwa wrote to the speaker of parliament, explaining why their client shouldn't lose his seat. In his letter, Mwesigwa noted that his client can't lose his seat based on article 80 since his sentence doesn't exceed nine months. He asked the speaker to consider his client's incarceration a satisfactory explanation for his absence from parliament in the event that he misses fifteen or more sittings. As a result, parliament has its legal department asked Mwesigwa to present a certified copy of the court judgment to allow make an informed decision on the matter.
Mwesigwa told URN that he had received the letter from parliament and provided the certified copy of the judgment.
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Chris Obore, the Director of Communication and Corporate Affairs in Parliament, says the speaker will act on Kahonda's petition after receiving advise from the Legal Department.
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Kahonda is not the first legislator to find himself in search a situation.

Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde
In 2005, the Uganda People's Defense Forces (UPDF) high command as the then former head of Internal Security Organization (ISO) Henry Tumukunde to resign his parliamentary seat as an army representative. He was subsequently arrested and spent the better part of that year under house arrest in the officer's mess in Kampala.
Instead of writing a resignation letter, Tumukunde wrote to the then Speaker of Parliament, Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi explaining his dilemma. However, Ssekandi took Tumukunde's letter for a resignation letter and declared his seat vacant prompting the now security minister to petition the constitutional court for an interpretation.
However, constitutional court upheld the speaker's decision. Unsatisfied with the constitutional court ruling, Tumukunde petitioned the Supreme Court, which overturned the ruling. In his judgment, the Supreme Court led by Justice George Kanyeihamba faulted President Yoweri Museven for having acted unlawfully when he summoned Tumukunde and asked him to resign his parliamentary seat.

Tony Nsubuga Kipoi
The former Bubulo West MP lost his seat in the Ninth Parliament in 29014 after missing 15 consecutive sittings without any clear reason.  The Deputy of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah declared the seat vacant on recommendations from adopted recommendations by the rules and discipline committee.
In its report, committee noted that Kipoi had defaulted on his constituents demanding that he ceases to be an MP under Article 81(3) of the Constitution and rule 101 of parliament's rules of procedure.

By that time, the legislator was rumored to have been arrested and jailed in the DRC, where he was picked up from the M23 rebel base in the Fataka area, in Eastern DR Congo.

Gen. David Sejusa
In November 2013, General David Sejusa ceased to be a member of parliament representing the Uganda People's Defense Forces (UPDF). This was also after the rules and discipline committee of parliament recommended his expulsion under rule 101 of parliament's rules of procedure.
It came after the speaker; Rebecca Kadaga in September 2013 said she didn't have grounds for extending Ssejusa's leave following the expiry of the previous leave in August 2013. Sejusa had through his lawyers Luzige, Lubega, Kavuma and Co. Advocates requested for more leave of three months. 
The general was by then in self-imposed exile in the United Kingdom after fleeing the country when he authored a dossier accusing Museveni is orchestrating a plan to have his son David Muhoozi succeed him.
In her statement, Kadaga noted that Sejusa had overstayed in the UK yet he was not on official parliamentary work on that of his constituency. Kadaga then demanded that Sejusa attends the next plenary sitting without fail since he had already missed more than 15 sittings without her permission. However, Sejusa didn't appear in parliament, which triggered the process to expel him from parliament.


About the author

Olive Nakatudde
Olive Nakatudde is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Nakatudde has been a URN staff member since 2013.

Nakatudde started out in journalism in 2009 with Dembe FM radio in Kampala. In 2012, Nakatudde joined Voice of Africa as a political reporter. She has been a photographer since her journalism school days at Makerere University.

Nakatudde is interested in good governance and public policy, which she reports on intensively from the Uganda Parliament. She is a keen follower of cultural affairs in Buganda Kingdom and covers the kingdom's Lukiiko (parliament). Nakatudde also reports on education and health.