Parliament was adjourned for the Christmas and New Years holiday with mixed feelings from the members of the new 8th Parliament of Uganda.
Seven months after they were sworn into office, the MPs are not in agreement about their performance as Uganda's first multiparty parliament in more than two decades. While for some, 2006 will be remembered for great achievements, for others it has been a year of disappointments.
Several veteran parliamentarians have argued that the quality of debate in the house was greatly diluted because of the overtly partisan parliament. Among them is the Democratic Party Chief Whip, Issa Kikungwe who says the working of a multiparty parliament have not been fully understood and appreciated. He says that on several occasions over the past few months, issues of national interest were given second place to partisan politics.
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Reagan Okumu of the Forum for Democratic Change agrees with this assessment. In his opinion, many important and diverse contributions were stifled by the new parliamentary system which requires the MPs to consult their party Chief Whips before they can participate in parliamentary debate.
Okumu claims that on many occasions members of the ruling National Resistance Movement fell victim to the system.
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For the Uganda People's Congress Chief Whip, Livingstone Okello Okello, the greatest disappointment of the first seven months of the new parliament was the very poor participation of the MPs. He notes that less than half the MPs bothered to attend parliamentary sessions and that on several occasions the plenary hall was virtually empty.
Okello Okello says he will use the recess to encourage his colleagues in parliament to pay more attention to the offices to which they were elected.
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However, it is not all doom and gloom. The Secretary General of the NRM Parliamentary Caucus, Sylvia Sinabulya, is quite happy with the work the MPs have done. She notes that many bills were debated and passed and is pleased that parliament has broken off for the Christmas holidays with not backlog of work.
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Parliament was adjourned indefinitely.
year in review
livingstone okello okello