IGP Okoth Ochola on verge of losing powers on regulating public meetings as Bobi Wine factor bites harder

Political parties under the Inter Party Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD) have Tuesday adopted a report of the committee of Secretary Generals and Attorney General on draft regulations for the Public Order Management Act, 2013.

This was at a meeting chaired by the Prime Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda in Kampala following a meeting that was held on April 25, 2019.

The Prime Minister noted that the report raised a number of proposals that will be used to inform regulations that will be drafted by government as soon as possible.

Rugunda said it was agreed that indeed the law is good and necessary but has several operational challenges which will be addressed in the regulations.

“The proposals raised in the report will be respected by the relevant organs of government and government is determined to ensure that political issues in the country are ironed out by Ugandans as patriots to make progress and strengthen democracy in the country,” Rugunda said.

He declined to highlight any proposal raised, noting that they (proposals) will make it easier for government to deal with the implementation of the law.

He gave assurance that implementation will be made expeditiously.

The committee among others proposed regulations seeking to clarify on the power of the Inspector General of Police or authorized officers under Section 3 of POMA by clearly defining who an authorized officer is.

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IPOD also wants clarity on the meaning of a public meeting especially what amounts to a public place for the purposes of the POMA 2013 as well as prescribing the procedure for filing the notice with the Police before a public meeting is held.

The committee chairperson and Chairperson IPOD Council, Gerald Siranda noted that the report as well seeks to clarify on what should be included in the Police reply to a notification for a public meeting and also provide for the effect of the Police not replying to the notice within 48 hours after the receipt of the notice.

“The law says that you write a notification to police and they should get back to you within 3 days but Police has not been doing that, we have also said that we are not mandated to inform Police on a private meeting; Police has been misinterpreting notification to mean permission and we are against that,” Siranda said.

Opposition politicians like kyandodo east MP Robert Kyagulanyi who have always wrote to police have not been replied by the police force hence the powers could shift if the rules on POMA are amended.

He added that, “If Police is objective, they should write to you to give you reasons and we should now obtain a register from police if we submit a notification.”

Siranda noted that this arrangement comes as a test to the ruling government on whether they are ready and willing to implement any deliberations out of political dialogue.

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