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MPs Split Over “Presidential Handshake” Motion

Uganda Radio Network has learnt that two MPs; Mbarara Municipality MP Michael Tusiime and Ndorwa East MP Wilfred Niwagaba both wanted to present a petition to Parliament to investigate the circumstances under which the payments were made to the 42 government officers.
Members of Parliament are split over a motion seeking Parliament's intervention in the payment of six billion Shillings to government official involved in the tax arbitration case between Uganda and Heritage Oil.

Uganda Radio Network has learnt that two MPs; Mbarara Municipality MP Michael Tusiime and Ndorwa East MP Wilfred Niwagaba both wanted to present a petition to Parliament to investigate the circumstances under which payments to the 42 government officials were made.

In what has become popularly known as the presidential handshake, the individuals took the payment as a compliment for helping Uganda secure (USD 400 million) 1.4 trillion Shillings in capital gains tax from Heritage Oil's sale of its stake to Tullow Oil.  The case was handled by United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) in a London court.

On Monday morning, Niwagaba was seen soliciting for signatures from different MPs in support of his motion, and thereafter took it to the office of the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga.

Sources say that Niwagaba later learnt that MP Michael Tusiime had also drafted a similar motion to be presented in the House, when Parliament resumes sittings tomorrow. A source told URN that Kadaga was forced to convene a meeting to resolve the impasse, with Tusiime given the lead to table the motion.

"Niwagaba was told to leave the motion to Tusiime and leave the NRM party to take the lead in tabling this motion while he is included among the seconders," the source told URN.

The other seconders of the motion are Usuk County MP Peter Ogwang, Manjiya MP John Baptist Nambeshe and Ajuri County MP Denis Hamson Obua. Others are Kasilo County MP Elijah Okupa and Bukedea Woman MP and Anita Among.

When contacted, Niwagaba declined to comment on the matter, while Tusiime said that he was engaged in a meeting. He was later in the day seen soliciting for signatures from fellow MPs.

Reports also indicate that the Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) committee and Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have expressed interest in handling the case.

Meanwhile, URA Commissioner General, Doris Akol, Christopher Gashibarake, Director Legal in the Attorney General's office and Moses Kaggwa, a Commissioner at the Finance Ministry,  were seen at Parliament on Monday afternoon.

They reportedly met with the Speaker, Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa and State Minister of Finance, David Bahati, however by press time, discussions were still ongoing.