The chairperson of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) caucus, Ruth Nankabirwa, has said the party caucus will sit on Tuesday to decide the fate of the 28 NRM MPs who voted against the removal of presidential age limits.
The 28 MPs defied the NRM leadership and voted against the constitutional amendment bill on December 20 that abolished the presidential age limit of 75 years, paving the way for President Museveni to run again in the next election. The President signed the bill into law seven days later.
A number of NRM MPs said that they could not support the amendment against the wishes of their constituents. Bugabula South MP Henry Kibalya said that in the four sub-counties he consulted; only 53 people asked him to support the amendment.
“As the 10th Parliament, we can stand here and succeed in amending Article 102 (b), but we shall never succeed in amending the hearts of Ugandans which have been broken by this act,” Kibalya said.
Others who voted against the amendment include Johnson Muyanja Senyonga (Mukono South), Barnabas Tinkasiimire (Buyaga West), Monica Amoding (Kumi Municipality), John Baptist Nambeshe (Manjiya), and James Ruugi Niringiyimana (Kinkiizi West).
Nankabirwa said yesterday that the fate of the MPs in question will be on the caucus’ agenda at next week’s meeting.
“We are going to have a caucus meeting on Tuesday [and] I will be briefing them; I am going to give a statement. They will receive a communication from me the chairperson of the caucus,” she said.
Some of the defiant NRM MPs told The Observer that they are not bothered by the caucus’ impending decision.
Nambeshe said he can never appear before any committee of the NRM party for disciplinary action “because what I was discharging was a duty vested upon my shoulders by my bosses [the voters]”.
“For me to have said ‘no’ on the floor of parliament to the removal of presidential age limits was a mandate given to me by the people of Manjiya,” he said.
Nambeshe added that the party should stop applying disciplinary action selectively.
“They should start by disciplining the chairperson of the party and the chairperson of the caucus for illegally ejecting us out of the caucus for the rest of the meetings after that illegal suspension.”
Ever since the 28 members voted against the bill, they have not attended any of the four caucus meetings that have since sat. Like Nambeshe, Niringiyimana is not concerned about any potential disciplinary action against them.
“They know that there is a government bill and a private member’s bill. That bill was a private member’s bill which was not sponsored by the government,” he said.
Niringiyimana added that since MPs went to consult their constituencies, what he presented was the views of his constituency; thus, there should be no disciplinary action. After voting to amend the constitution, Nankabirwa told journalists that the NRM MPs who voted against the bill were not following the party line.
“If your party has taken a decision, you have to toe that line, but people here behave as if they came as independent members..,” she said.