The Committee Chair, Clement Obote Ongalo asked the Minister to explain why he didn’t provide a written statement as required by the rules of procedure and why he couldn't present government’s statement on the withdrawal of UPDF from Lakes.
The Defense State Minister, Col. Charles Okello
Engola has defended his failure to present a written statement to parliament on
why Uganda People’s Defense Forces-UPDF ignored a directive by the house to
stop operations by the Fisheries Protection Unit on Ugandan waters.
The minister told the Rules, Privileges and
Discipline Committee of parliament on Thursday afternoon that his failure to
present a formal statement was an over sight on his part and not in any way
meant to undermine the house.
In January 2020, the Speaker of parliament, Rebecca
Kadaga referred Engola to the rules committee for failure to follow the rules
of procedure in regards to tabling a written statement before the house.
This afternoon, the Committee Chair, Clement
Obote Ongalo asked the Minister to explain why he didn’t provide a written statement
as required by the rules of procedure and why he couldn't present government’s
statement on the withdrawal of UPDF from Lakes.
//Cue in: "To explain to...
Cue out:...accorded to it"//
Engola said he takes Parliament seriously, saying he simply
requested for more time to get a proper statement to facilitate the house, a
request that was denied.
He told MPs that he is “just a Minister of State for
Defense and the order of deploying troops comes from the Commander in Chief”,
implying that he wasn’t able to cause withdrawal of UPDF from the lakes even
when Parliament has resolved so.
Engola said he did his part by extracting the resolution of
Parliament and presented it to the main Minister who briefed cabinet and the
He says that as a result, a committee was set up to investigate all
allegations against UPDF soldiers involved in fisheries operations.
//Cue in: "Honorable chair i am...
Cue out:...me some time"//
However, the Committee members disagreed with
Engola, saying it is not the first time such a matter was coming up from
Ministers on contempt of Parliament.
The Bugiri Municipality MP, Asuman Basalirwa
said although the President is the Commander in Chief of all armed forces, he
isn’t a Member of Parliament, saying it was the duty of the Defense Ministers to
extract the debate in Parliament and brief the President.
He said that there has been reluctance on the part of the
Minister to resolve issues surrounding the operations of the UPDF Fisheries Protection
//Cue in: "Unfortunately when you...
Cue out:...parliament very seriously"//
The Committee also tasked Engola to explain remarks
attributed to senior UPDF officers in the media, saying Parliament doesn’t
command the army and operations on lakes will not stop.
Captain Nathan Abaho, the Commandant of the
Fisheries Protection Unit (FPU) in Kalangala District told reporters that only
the head of state will decide if the UPDF is to leave the waters.
In his response, Engola said UPDF hasn’t issued
or released a statement, adding that Government’s position on that issue was
still a matter for cabinet to resolve.
He said UPDF would find out under, what
circumstances Abaho made the statement and discipline him. Obote also
asked the Minister if he was now ready to table his statement.
was noncommittal, saying the subcommittee set up by Cabinet to investigate
torture claims against the Army hasn’t completed its report.