The Speaker Jacob Oulanyah, who last chaired Parliament on November 24, 2021, will unprecedentedly be away from the seat for over 150 days by April 2022.
Parliament is for the first time going be steered by the Deputy Speaker, Anita Among for close to six months as the Speaker Oulanyah remains in the United States for extended “medical care and monitoring” until next month.
ChimpReports has exclusively learned that Oulanyah, who left the country on February 3, 2022, has been advised by the medics to remain at the medical facility in the Washington State’s largest city of
Seattle for a “considerable time”.
According to sources, family and friends had expected the Speaker to be discharged in early March 2022 and return to his duty. However, in late February, the doctors decided otherwise.
“We saw the treatment and management plan extend up to April,” said a source. The advice of the U.S. medics was nonetheless welcome in Kampala with top Government officials saying it is better for Oulanyah to stay away from the possible disturbance at home for him to quickly and fully recover.
“Here (Uganda) there will visitors and delegations of all sorts from across the country. Let the Speaker recuperate fully from the U.S,” said a government official we have withheld the name.
The advice from the doctors is based on the Speaker’s current condition and any changes can lead to possible further extension of his return.
Oulanyah was flown out aboard a chartered Uganda Airlines Flight UR 2, plane registration number 5x-NIL. It is not the first time a Speaker of Parliament is out of the country on medical grounds but it is the first time to stay out for over a month.
In 2019, then Speaker Rebecca Kadaga was flown to Nairobi, Kenya on March 23 but she only spent 3 weeks abroad and returned on April 13, 2019.
The Deputy Speaker, Anita Among will have to be in country and always fit to chair the plenary sessions in Oulanyah’s absence since Parliament only has two presiding officers.
We spoke to African Parliaments researcher, Stephen Twebaze on the implication of the absence of one presiding officer for a long period of time, on the running of Parliament plenary sittings.
Twebaze said currently there is no vacuum since the Deputy Speaker is present but any unwanted occurrence would jeopardize the running of business in the August House.
“I see no vacuum at the moment since the Deputy is around. A situation would only arise in a circumstance where the Deputy is unfortunately unable,” he said.
Twebaze recounted during the National Resistance Council when its Chairman, President Yoweri Museveni and Deputy Moses Kigongo were not available to chair the sitting resulting into amending the law to pick the 3rd alternate presiding officer.
“I remember during NRC its Chairman H.E Museveni and the deputy Haji Kigongo were not around and the law had to be revisited to get a third alternate person to chair the house. Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga and two others were fronted for it,” said Twebaze.
Among has continued to singularly chair the house since late last year and recently staying on the seat up to late in the evenings, in an apparent show of stamina.
Efforts to get a comment from the Parliament’s Director of communications and Public Affairs, Chris Obore were futile as he didn’t respond to our calls or messages.