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Friday 24 October  
Image of cover from The Independent of 4 January 2013
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Kampala, Uganda
Kampala, Uganda

What – or who – killed young MP Cerinah Nebanda?

Published on : 10 January 2013 - 6:00am | By RNW Africa Desk (Photo: Arne Doornebal)
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She became a member of parliament while still at university. The day before her sudden death last month, she had a public spat with President Museveni. Twenty-four-year-old Cerinah Nebanda’s passing has gripped Uganda. Some wonder if the incident comes as a warning to other MPs: don’t be too critical of the man in charge. Fellow MP and medical doctor Chris Baryomunsi was among the first to view Nebanda’s body. Afterwards, he spent five days in jail. Here’s his story, as told to RNW correspondent Arne Doornebal.

On the evening of December 14th, we got the news that our colleague Honourable Cerinah Nebanda had just died and was lying in one of the private hospitals here in Kampala. I was among the first members of parliament to get this information. I rushed to the clinic and confirmed that she had died. Since then, we have been trying to find out what caused her sudden death.

Chris Baryomunsi, MP for Kinkizi East
Chris Baryomunsi, MP for Kinkizi East
The day before her death, the president held a special address to parliament. He said that the health sector in Uganda had improved, and there were enough drugs in health facilities. Nebanda said that was not true: in her own constituency, there were no medicines. The president had promised to organize a trip so they could together inspect the health facilities in her district, especially those affecting her own people in the district.

Nebanda was a vocal, outstanding, courageous and fearless MP. She would confront everybody, including the president, if she was convinced that the position they took was not in the interest of the people.

Foul play?
Nebanda was healthy. Even on the morning she died, she had been to parliament. So something happened within a short span of time, and it caused her death. We thought that, being a high-profile person and an outspoken politician, she had maybe been poisoned. Everybody thought there could have been foul play.

That’s why we immediately gathered at hospital. We agreed with police, that the family would bring in a pathologist and that the government would bring in a pathologist to try to establish cause of death. But later on, the police behaved quite strangely and said that observers like me should not be part of the process. This raised a lot of suspicion within the public arena.

When the pathologist nominated by parliament and Nebanda’s family was about to board a plane to South Africa, police arrested him. Samples were forcefully removed from his bag. Some of us who were part of this process were later arrested, accused of stealing the body parts of a human being, and arraigned before courts of law.

Arrested
As I was travelling to my constituency on Christmas Eve, I encountered a road block that had been mounted to look for me. The police said they had instructions from the powers above to stop me and bring me back to Kampala. When I asked why, they said they didn’t know, but had been so instructed.

I was brought to a police station in Kampala, and spent five days in the cells, although our constitution clearly states that a suspect should not be held for more than 48 hours.

The police had already announced before we entered the post-mortem room that Nebanda had died of an overdose of narcotic drugs and alcohol. We question how they can make such a conclusion even before the body was opened.

Our clarification to the public – that we should wait for a laboratory analysis of the samples – probably annoyed the police, who wanted the people to believe she had died of an overdose. 

The late Cerinah Nebanda, MP for Butaleja
The late Cerinah Nebanda, MP for Butaleja
However, it is still an option that Nebanda has been poisoned.

Energized
Maybe the attempt has been to subdue MPs, and make them fear being critical in the debate. But I don’t think it will achieve that desired result. If anything, MPs are going to be even more energized and more vocal, more critical, outspoken, independent-minded and objective in the debate.

Threats, arrests, even attempts to kill people – they cannot weaken me. Never.

Listen to the audio version of MP Baryomunsi's story here.

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Discussion

shariq 3 October 2013 - 8:48am

Sad to hear this news! It’s really hard to find a personality like Cerinah! I didn’t understand the reason behind this murder! Anyways criminals should get severe punishment for this cruel activity! Hope the government should do the needful!
http://www.snoringcurespro.com

bagend Happy John 18 April 2013 - 4:18pm / uganda

Its now Public that saying the truth in NRM regime you are seen as a great enemy to this government, the likes of Nsereko and the group were just expelled because of talking the right thing. what wonders is that the real thugs are the one splashing these heroes out. MBABAZI and your Co-thug watch out come 2016 we shall kick you out by law, however much you steal them this time round TULIBAKOWU. Artical 29 dont forget that it gives me this right

bagend Happy John 18 April 2013 - 4:16pm / uganda

Its now Public that saying the truth in NRM regime you are seen as a great enemy to this government, the likes of Nsereko and the group were just expelled because of talking the right thing. what wonders is that the real thugs are the one splashing these heroes out. MBABAZI and your Co-thug watch out come 2016 we shall kick you out by law, however much you steal them this time round TULIBAKOWU. Artical 29 dont forget that it gives me this right

Anonymous 18 April 2013 - 4:16pm / uganda

Its now Public that saying the truth in NRM regime you are seen as a great enemy to this government, the likes of Nsereko and the group were just expelled because of talking the right thing. what wonders is that the real thugs are the one splashing these heroes out. MBABAZI and your Co-thug watch out come 2016 we shall kick you out by law, however much you steal them this time round TULIBAKOWU. Artical 29 dont forget that it gives me this right

Anonymous 11 January 2013 - 10:19pm / Uganda

Museveni like some Banyarwanda people introduced poison to kill their opponents and Nebanda is one victim. This is what they did and are still doing in Congo. Museveni adn his "clan" mates from Mbarara killed Nebanda no question. The man killed Andrew Kayiira, using Rwigyema & Tinyefunza aka Ssejussa, Killed Col. Gad Wilson Toko, He killed Col. Sserwanga Lwanga and other Baganda and non Banyankore officers in the Army, he killed people in Luweero etc. This murderer may God help but he has too much blood on his hands and we pray that he may face justice better than Mouma Gaddafi of Libya faced. He killed and he wants to kill more BUT he is a loser going down anytime.

Uma Mukasa 10 January 2013 - 4:41pm / uganda

verdacht!! just watching these funny corrupt legislatures who wouldn't even intervene to know the what really happened to their colleague RIP Nebanda?? whether political or not still verdacht???

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