The speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon. Anita Among has ruled that legislators who continue to miss plenary sittings without formal authorization are now banned from all other parliamentary activities including committees and sports events.
In her communication to the house at commencement of the afternoon plenary session, Among also said the legislators in question will not be eligible for foreign trips or conferences organized through Parliament.
Speaker Among reiterated her commitment to punish errant legislators with expulsion from the house through invoking Rule 112 of Rules of Procedure that sets a maximum of 15 consecutive sittings for any member to lose his seat if he or she is absent from plenary without authorization from the speaker.
“Today marks the 5th Sitting since my directive on the need for Members to adhere to Rule 112 of the Rules of Procedure of Parliament in as far as leave of absence is concerned. Whereas I am cognisant of the continued absence of some members of this House, I am yet to receive a formal request from them for leave of absence. I therefore with to guide as follows:
Only Members who are formally granted leave of absence will continue to exercise their rights in Committees and partake of the benefits such as travel abroad.
Members who are absent from the House without authorisation should stay away from Parliamentary Committees.
An absentee Member will not be eligible for any Parliamentary Activity, including but not limited to Meetings, trips, conferences and East African Community Inter-Parliamentary Games.
For the Committees whose leadership is absent from the House without the Speaker’s authorisation, Committee Members may evoke Rule 203 (5) of the Rules of Procedure of Parliament to continue transacting Committee Business.” The Speaker directed.
Without quoting specific provisions of the law or rules of the house, the speaker asserted that any member who opts to stay away from plenary sittings and decides not to be part of the house, loses eligibility to the privileges of being a Parliamentarian.
At first, the speakers tough stance on absenteeism by members of Parliament was interpreted to be directed to opposition legislators but this has been clarified to include all MPs in the 11th Parliament who have made it a habit of absconding from duty in the house.
The opposition MPs declared a boycott of plenary sittings over alleged government’s inadequate response to their call to action over human rights violations in the country. For more than a month, the legislators have refused to return to the house until a comprehensive statement is presented by government highlighting actions taken to guarantee a good human rights environment in Uganda.