The Speaker of Parliament, Mr Jacob Oulanyah, flew to the United Kingdom (UK) on Tuesday amid continued speculation about his health fuelled by his disappearance from the public.
Sources close to the Speaker’s office dismissed claims that he was battling Covid-19 and talked of minor stomach complications, which they said coincided with his pre-arranged family visit to the UK.
They, however, refused to delve into the details.
On Tuesday, Parliament dismissed a report that Mr Oulanyah was seriously ill and that plans were underway to fly him out of the country for treatment.
Mr Chris Obore, the Parliament’s communications director, on Tuesday explained that Mr Oulanyah took time off to be with his family after a hectic schedule on the campaign trail.
However, a source at Entebbe airport claimed to have seen a person who resembled Mr Oulanyah lying in an ambulance on Tuesday evening awaiting clearance to leave the country.
The source told this newspaper that “a muscular man” who looked like the Speaker was brought to the airport by an ambulance led by a Parliament Police lead car. The source added that Mr Oulanyah’s chief bodyguard was in the lead car.
According to the source, the immigration VIP staff cleared his documents while he remained in the ambulance and that he was with “a dark-skinned lady” who handled the process.
“The lady opened the ambulance door to pick documents from the bag and we saw some dark-skinned person of Oulanyah’s size lying inside,” the source said.
Other sources at the airport said the ambulance accessed the runway through the cargo section. The Speaker is said not have used Uganda Airlines to fly out of the country.
Mr Obore yesterday confirmed that Mr Oulanyah flew out of the country but dismissed reports that he was ill at the time of departure.
“I have just talked to him. He said his son in the UK was uneasy over media reports that he is very sick. The media reports were claiming that he is bedridden and that unsettled the son even when they could speak on phone,” Mr Obore told The Xtremewood Reporters yesterday.
He added that the Speaker informed him that he decided to fly out of the country to meet his son, because it is difficult for the latter to come here given the Covid-19 situation. “He made a decision with his daughter and left,” Mr Obore said.
Several social media reports claimed that Mr Oulanyah is battling Covid-19 after more than 200 MPs and Parliament staff tested positive for the virus.
But Mr Obore said Mr Oulanyah is free from Covid-19. “I personally have his last negative result but I cannot share with you because it’s confidential,” he said.
However, one of Mr Oulanyah’s aides, who did not want to speak on record, had earlier told The Xtremewood boss that the Speaker was at his home yesterday.
“He is not out of the country nor is he ill,” the aide said.
The public started asking about Mr Oulanyah’s whereabouts after he chaired the House sessions only three times ever since his swearing-in and left his Deputy Anita Among to take over. He first presided over the voting of Ms Among at Kololo, then at the State of Nation Address on June 4 and the Budget reading. Since then, he has not been seen at Parliament.