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Ugandan security accused of ejecting MPs from parliament

By Sam Edem
Uganda Parliamentarians in a fight with security guards
Uganda Parliamentarians in a fight with security guards

At least five Ugandan lawmakers received hospital treatment for injuries sustained while being dragged out of the parliament by plain-clothes security guards that opposition MPs said were really soldiers from President Yoweri Museveni's special forces.

The clashes erupted in the chamber on Tuesday and Wednesday over a motion to end a constitutional limit on the president's age, effectively allowing 73-year-old Museveni, one of Africa's most entrenched "Big Men", to extend his 31 years in power.

Reinforcing lawmakers' suggestions that soldiers had been involved in the incidents, television footage showed Uganda's special forces commander was in parliament just before dozens of MPs were forcibly removed.

Ugandan authorities have not commented on the suggestions.

Rights groups denounced the incidents as a violation of the parliament's bar on police or soldiers entering the chamber.

"In effect what happened was an overthrow of the constitutional order," said Nicholas Opiyo, a Kampala-based human rights lawyer and political analyst.

One of the ejected MPs, Gaffa Mbwatekamwa, sported a cracked left arm in bandages and a sling as he described his ordeal.

"These guys grabbed me from behind and one twisted my arm. I started screaming and another one squeezed my balls," he told Reuters at a Kampala hospital where he was visiting a fellow injured legislator.

He and other MPs said they had also been punched and kicked by the security guards. Mbwatekamwa added that some of the alleged guards were recognised as members of the armed forces.

Credit: timeslive.co.za