The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has recalled Parliament from recess to discuss the deployment of Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) in South Sudan.
Hellen Kawesa, the Parliament’s Public Relations Officer, confirms the recall saying that Parliament will reconvene on Tuesday January 14, almost a month after the government hurriedly deployed special forces in Juba following the outbreak of fighting in that country on December 15. At least 1000 people have been killed and close to 200,000 others are displaced since the fighting started on December 15.
Kawesa noted that the issue of discussion is the UPDF deployment in South Sudan and that the communication has already been sent to MPs through their e-mails, SMS messages and notices in Parliament.
According to a notice to all members of parliament dated 9th January 2014 by the clerk to Parliament Jane Kibirige, the sitting is scheduled for January 14th at 10am in the parliamentary chambers.
Kibirige says the recall is in accordance with Article 210 of the Constitution and Section 39 of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces Act, 2005. Article 210 (d) of the Constitution of Uganda provides that Parliament approves deployment of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) in a foreign country and Section 39 of the UPDF Act allows the President to deploy troops outside Uganda for purposes of peace keeping or peace enforcement. The section however provides for such deployment to be done with the approval of parliament.
Some legislators have been critical of the South Sudan deployment saying it was never approved by Parliament as provided for under Article 210 of the constitution. But government has insisted that it deployed in Juba to help evacuate Ugandan nationals trapped in the conflict. Several opposition MPs have been pushing for the recall of Parliament saying that the Country’s army was illegally deployed and that government owes an explanation to the country for the deployment.
URN has also learnt of a letter written by President Yoweri Museveni to Speaker Rebecca Kadaga on UPDF deployment, received by the Speaker’s office on January 9, 2014 but dated December 24, 2013. The letter apparently was communicating the deployment and the reasons why the deployment was made.
In the letter, President Museveni asks Kadaga to recall Parliament to discuss the deployment and also approve the presence of UPDF in the war-torn country.
Parliament broke off for recess on December 20, 2013 and was supposed to resume business on February 18, 2014.