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VP Alupo to sit in for isolated President Museveni

VP Alupo to sit in for isolated President Museveni

Covid-19 standard operating procedures prescribed isolation as a key measure in managing infection, meaning the President may not be available to execute his constitutional duty of presiding over the national budget reading.

Vice President Jessica Alupo may stand in for President Museveni at the reading of next year’s Shs52 trillion National Budget slated for June 15, a top ruling party official has said.

Mr Richard Todwong, the secretary general of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party, said Ms Alupo would represent the President in case he fails to make it for health reasons.   

“Her Excellency, the Vice President, will represent the President in case he can’t make it,” Mr Todwong said over the phone yesterday. 

President Museveni tested positive for Covid-19 three days after returning from a 10-day ruling party retreat held at the National Leadership Institute, Kyankwanzi, between May 27 and June 5.

He went into self-isolation at State Lodge Nakasero, Kampala last Friday.

A day earlier, the President had broken the news of his probable infection in the State-of-the-Nation address on Thursday. Initial testing had, however, returned both negative and positive results under different diagnostic methods, he told the country.

Subsequent tests would later confirm the infection.

The President has since then issued two personal statements, giving status updates to the country in which he said he was experiencing only mild symptoms (roughness in the throat, momentary muscle soreness and a little headache), some of which have since cleared. Additional testing on Sunday indicated the President was still positive but was coping well; sleeping a lot and catching up on piles of paperwork when awake, State House said. 

Covid-19 standard operating procedures prescribed isolation as a key measure in managing infection, meaning the President may not be available to execute his constitutional duty of presiding over the national budget reading.

The Deputy Senior Presidential Press Secretary, Mr Farouk Kirunda, yesterday said official communication regarding the President’s availability, and who may represent him, will be made today.

“I can’t comment now. We haven’t received any communication but it is most likely to be made tomorrow (today). I will share with you that information immediately I receive the communication,” he said.

The Minister of the Presidency, Ms Milly Babirye Babalanda, also could not confirm whether Ms Alupo would stand in for her boss.

“You will know his representative at the right time. We cannot fail to get someone to represent him,” Ms Babalanda said.

There has been some controversy over the President’s delegation of authority and presidential function to Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja over the National Heroes Day period last week.

Opposition leaders and some political pundits say he may have offended Article 109(4,5) of the Constitution.

The Article says where the President is unable to perform the functions of office, the vice president will stand in until the President returns.

If both are unable to perform those functions, then the Speaker of Parliament shall perform those functions until either of the two are able to perform the functions of office. The Constitution makes no mention of the Prime Minister in respect to the absence of the President.

This will be the second time the President will be represented at the budget reading meet.

In 2004, he was represented by the then vice president, Prof Gilbert Bukenya, when he had to be away for talks with world leaders attending a G8 Summit in the United States of America.

The Group of Eight (G8) Summit was a political forum of eight of the most powerful countries in the world (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom, and USA).

Earlier yesterday, Dr Kenneth Omona, principal private secretary to the President, said although Mr Museveni is unwell, he is still running the office.

“The budget is not right now, so you wait and see how he progresses in the course of the day. The President is in charge,” Dr Omona said.

He commended those Ugandans who have wished the President a quick recovery.

What opposition says

Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Mr Mathias Mpuuga, yesterday said since the budget was already passed by Parliament money, spent on Covid tests on whoever attends meetings with the President, should be saved.

Records at the Ministry of Health indicate that a Covid test can cost up to $50 (about Shs180,000), which suggests that hundreds of millions of shillings could be saved, according to Mr Mpuuga’s advice.

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