Parliament Observes Moment of Silence in Honor of Dr. Ssemogerere

Parliament has observed a minute of silence to honor the late Dr. Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere, the former president General of the Democratic party-DP. The veteran opposition politician died on Friday last week at the age of 90 years and was laid to rest at Nattale- Nkumba, in Entebbe on Monday afternoon.

Ssemogerere contested for the presidency in 1980 and in 1996, losing to Dr. Apollo Milton Obote and Yoweri Kaguta Museveni respectively. After a decades of service, he retired from active politics in 2005 but remained a senior figure in the opposition until his death. He led the Democratic Party- DP for 25 years after replacing Benedicto Kiwanuka who was murdered in 1972. 

Dr. Ssemogerere handed over the party leadership to the late John Ssebana Kizito 2005, the former Kampala City Mayor. Dr. Ssemogerere served as a Member of the Uganda Legislative Council between 1961 to 1962 and a Member of Parliament for North Mengo Constituency in the first Parliament of Uganda. After the 1980 elections whose results were contested, he opposed the use of violence to change political leadership and settled as Leader of the Opposition in Parliament during the tumultuous years of the second Obote administration between 1981 and 1985.

Ssemogerere emerged as the senior government negotiator during the 1985 peace talks in Nairobi, Kenya, which kicked off immediately after the army overthrew Obote’s government. In 1986 he joined the new government headed by President Museveni and served as Internal Affairs Minister, Foreign Affairs Minister, and Deputy Prime Minister among others. He resigned from his cabinet position in 1995 to challenge Museveni in the 1996 elections.

As MPs convened for the plenary Tuesday afternoon, the Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among formally communicated the demise of the veteran politician, describing him as a distinguished leader with an illustrious political and leadership career. 

“The return of multi-party democracy in 2000 is attributed to the consistent advocacy by Dr. Paul Ssemogerere, among other national leaders. The country will dearly miss Dr. Ssemogerere,” said Among. The Speaker urged the Leader of Government Business in parliament and the Leader of the Opposition to consider moving a bi-partisan motion for the House to pay tribute for the distinguished service that the late Ssemogerere offered to the country.

Following her communication, Dr. Abed Bwanika, the Kimaanya-Kabonera Division MP, said that they look forward to a motion for all MPs to pay tribute to Ssemogerere whom he described as a wonderful man. The former presidential candidate also said that the late Ssemogerere was an outstanding gentleman who made a huge contribution to Uganda.

Joseph Ssewungu, the Kalungu West MP, asked the government to urgently present a Bill providing for official and State burials to avoid disagreements whenever a leader in the country dies. 

“This House has in the past had a lot of challenges on the determination of those supposed to get official burials and in the previous parliament, former Attorney General Peter Nyombi was brought here to lay in State. But previous parliaments have been seeking a law that governors on who should be given official or State burial,” said Ssewungu. He added that the issue of the 17-gun salute at the late Ssemogerere’s burial created an ugly scene after the widow challenged the government’s gesture. Sewungu said that with a law in place, such issues can never arise. 

In his response, Government Chief Whip, Dennis Hamson Obua, said that the Ministry of Public Service was granted the mandate to work on a paper highlighting the personalities entitled to a state, official, or any other form of burial. He said that in the absence of the guiding principle, President Yoweri Museveni offered Dr. Ssemogerere an official burial on behalf of the government 

Obua also undertook to present a motion to parliament on Thursday in honor of the late Dr. Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere.    

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