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MPs renew calls for review of POMA ahead of 2021 elections

FILE PHOTO: IPOD-PM Rugunda guides the POMA deliberations

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  | A section of Members of parliament have renewed calls to amend the Public Order Management Act (POMA).

On Monday, the Uganda Police Force indicated that its commanders countrywide had been directed to ensure that all meetings of public interest held in private homes obtain permission or risk being arrested for breaking the law which mandates them to regulate meetings in public and those held in private homes.

The directive comes at a time when different political players are gearing up ahead of the 2021 general elections. However, Section 4 of the POMA says that a meeting convened at any place which is not public is not considered a public meeting unless it spills over to a public place.

Busia Municipality MP Godfrey Macho says that the law needs to be immediately brought back to parliament and amended for clarity such that the role of the police is clearly defined within the law.

Macho said that the Public Order Management Act (POMA) does not give the Police Force such broad powers of regulating meetings in private homes.

Bufumbira East MP Nsaba Buturo said that those calling for an amendment are within their rights but insists that the police are correctly implementing the law as it was meant to be applied.

The former minister of Ethics and Integrity, however, points out that parliament should revisit the law since it has turned out to be quite harsh in its application.

But Kasese Municipality MP Robert Centenary called for the law to be repealed instead noting that it was enacted with malicious motives.

He believes that the government needs to respect the right to private property and that police is misinterpreting the law since the state has no right to regulate activities in private homes as long as there is no threat to security.

In April 2019, the Inter-Party Organization for Dialogue (IPOD) which brings together Political Parties represented in parliament agreed to form a joint committee to review the controversial law. The committee was agreed to be comprised of the Attorney General William Byaruhanga and the Secretary Generals of all the five parties under IPOD.

The political parties include the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), Democratic Party (DP), Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), Justice Forum (JEEMA) and the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).

It was expected to consider experiences, developments, and flaws in the implementation of the law and propose draft regulations for streamlining and smoothening its implementation.



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