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Speaker Jacob Oulanyah dead!

The Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah is dead. Oulanyah passed away at a hospital in Seattle, USA, a few hours ago, where he has been battling an unknown illness.

Unconfirmed reports said he succumbed to cancer of the intestines.

Oulanyah’s death, shocking as it is, came when the country had been enveloped in rumours and suspicion about his state of health.

Several prominent politicians had sent out messages of sympathy urging people to pray for Oulanyah.

The news of his death was confirmed by President Museveni.

Oulanyah, who has been speaker for less than a year, served as deputy speaker for 10 years. He has been in Parliament since 2001.

An eloquent speaker, Oulanyah chaired the legal and parliamentary affairs committee that controversially recommended the removal of term limits that allowed President Museveni to stand again in 2006.

The opposition accused him of being a sell out and after he lost his Omoro County seat in 2006, Oulanyah officially crossed from UPC to NRM.

But he bounced back to Parliament in 2011 and was elected deputy speaker, deputizing Rebecca Kadaga, the Kamuli Woman MP.

In 2016, he toyed with the idea of contesting for the speakership but was convinced to stand down for Kadaga by President Museveni during a heated NRM caucus meeting at Entebbe

For the next five years, Oulanyah never got along well with Kadaga, who hardly gave him a chance to preside over Parliament.

He got his chance in 2021 when Museveni and the NRM backed his bid to become speaker.

Yet ever since he was elected to the top post, Oulanyah had hardly chaired any sittings due to ill health. His deputy Anita Among has steered most of the sittings.

Last year after a long absence from the House, he told MPs that he was back and feeling fine. He said he was disappointed by rumours about his death.

“Why would anyone wish another person death?” he asked during a session to welcome him back.

A couple of months later, his health condition worsened and was rushed to Mulago and later to the US where he breathed his last.

Details of his funeral arrangements are yet to be announced.

Alexi Jo McCammond, USA

Reporting for:

Oyet Mediatech Corporation

Gulu, Uganda

By Sheila Nduhukire

Sheila Nduhukire is Ugandan journalist, news editor and senior anchor with NBS Television and a fellow of 2017 International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) Great Lakes Reporting Initiative cohort.