This past Monday, Ugandans were treated to ugly scenes in the National Assembly as Members of Parliament from the opposition and government sides traded blows, kicks and insults over an attempt by those allied to the ruling party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) to amend the constitution to remove the presidential age-limit.
The legislators decided to put aside their “honorable” tags for a moment to shout, shove and throw punches and kicks at each other, with one MP even attempting to hit his opponent over the head with a chair.
The brawl, which was captured on camera, lasted for several minutes before the parliamentary security personnel stepped in to restore sanity to the honorable house. Later, the Speaker adjourned the house and suspended all members of the opposition.
Social Media Uproar
Ugandans took to social media to condemn the incident, with some even calling for the disbandment of the entire parliament.
AND WHY DO WE NEED THE PARLIAMENT ANYWAY, CANT WE DO WITHOUT IT AND WE VOTE AS UGANDA TO GIKWATAKO OR NOT SINCE… https://t.co/zj2r2Q1vjt
— God first (@hannahseated) September 27, 2017
The punches am seeing in the Ugandan Parliament. This fits to be an action movie…my oh my..cant get over these clips from @ntvuganda damn
— #PurplePartyUG??? (@DouglasLwangaUg) September 27, 2017
It’s sad & heartbreaking to watch these @Parliament_UG MP’s in Karate fights.
Oh Uganda ??
For God and My Country
— Amako Asèga (@AmakoAsega) September 27, 2017
— Daron (@bartlettdaron) September 27, 2017
Enough Is Enough
Although many people have criticized the early-morning brawl, some political analysts say the clash has been a long time coming. They argue that the anger portrayed by opposition MPs is a true representation of how majority of Ugandans feel about the autocratic leadership of President Yoweri Museveni.
Since 1986, when Museveni took power, Ugandans have endured all manner of atrocities, including political detentions, assassinations, torture and draconian laws that are meant to suppress dissenting voices.
And although elections are held after every five years, claims of vote rigging and intimidation of opposition supporters are often widespread. The country’s main opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye, Museveni’s main political rival, has often been detained, put under house arrest and even charged with treason.
All these atrocities have made Ugandans, especially those in the opposition, feel trapped and helpless. Their only hope of getting rid of Museveni, who they accuse of mismanaging the country, is the constitutional clause that prevents the 73-year-old President from running for a sixth consecutive term.
So any attempts to amend the constitution to clear the way for Museveni to hold on to power is definitely bound to meet great resistance.
Some people are even worried that yesterday’s fracas in parliament was the beginning of a process that could lead to a major political shakeup in the East African nation. But that remains to be seen.