Museveni decries archaic Parliament law, warns Ugandans against rumours about Speaker’s death; South Sudan on tenterhooks as army surrounds Vice President’s home; Ghana removes law on wearing face masks

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni last week called for an amendment to the law which requires immediate election of the Speaker after death of the incumbent. Speaking during the election of the new Speaker of Parliament last Friday, Mr Museveni stated that the practice was colonial. He stated that he had asked the Chief Justice and the new Speaker to look into how to handle the amendment. 

“It is madness to have this election when Oulanyah is not buried,” said Museveni.

The election of Annet Anita Among on Friday followed the demise of Speaker Jacob Oulanyah on Sunday 20th March 2022, in Seattle, Washington. His body will return to Uganda on Friday 1st April and thereafter burial will take place following a week of funeral proceedings according to a programme released by government. 

Mr Museveni reminded Parliament about culture in Uganda which prohibits activity during mourning. 

Museveni warned Ugandans against peddling lies that Oulanyah was killed. “Police will come for you and tell us what we don’t know. I got to know about his sickness when he was admitted in Dubai. He died at the most reputable hospital in the world. Before that he was in Dubai, then here at the Cancer Institute,” Museveni said in response to a section of the public had taken to social media with claims that Oulanyah did not die of natural causes. He clarified that Oulanyah had been admitted in several hospitals around the world for some time.

Museveni praised Oulanyah as a great leader who laboured to unite people across Uganda.

Anite Among defeated opposition candidate Asuman Basalirwa by 401 votes to 66 while former Government Chief Whip Thomas Tayebwa defeated Forum for Democratic Change party’s Moses Okot Bitek for the position of Deputy Speaker.

In South Sudan, trouble seemed to be brewing after the two leaders President Salvar Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar experienced a misunderstanding. The president of South Sudan defended the deployment of dozens of heavily armed troops around the residence of the First Vice-President Riek Machar.

While President Kiir described the deployment as “normal practice”, designed to protect the former rebel leader, Machar condemned the move, saying it “creates doubt” that the fragile peace process can succeed. He has accused government forces of attacking his positions in Upper Nile and Unity states, in the north of the country, in recent weeks.

The United Nations has urged the two sides to negotiate to try to stop South Sudan sliding back into full civil war.

Soldiers had encircled Mr Machar’s house from Sunday evening until Monday, after he rejected President Kiir’s directive on the formation of a national army, part of the peace deal the pair signed in 2018 following five years of civil war. 

Ghana has removed the mandatory requirement for face masks to be worn in public. President Nana Akufo-Addo announced the decision on Sunday, citing a sustained drop in Covid infections in Ghana and neighbouring countries. The president also scrapped the requirement for negative PCR tests for fully vaccinated travellers arriving in the country through the Kotoka International Airport in Accra from Monday. Ghana’s daily infection rate has been falling steadily since December 2021. The West African country has so far recorded 160,925 confirmed Covid cases.

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