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Rugunda, IPOD Leaders to Meet Over Delayed Implementation of POMA Regulations

Political Parties under the Inter Party Organization for Dialogue (IPOD) and Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda are set to meet on March 17 2020 at a yet to be disclosed venue.

This was announced by IPOD Council Chairman and Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Secretary General Nandala Mafabi while addressing the press at the IPOD secretariat in Ntinda, Kampala.

Speaking on Wednesday, Mafabi revealed that the intention of scheduling this meeting at short notice is to ascertain why the Public Order Management Act (POMA) draft regulations have since been shelved.

“We want to meet the prime minister and the security agencies to tell us why they are not willing to clearly follow it and right now we are in an electoral process; if we do not do it very well the elections will be disrupted,” Mafabi said.

With the exception of FDC, all Political heads who attended last year’s IPOD summit at Protea Hotel agreed in principle to fast track the new POMA regulations in two months. According to a speech by Norbert Mao who was the summit president then, these regulations were supposed to be adopted after being studied by the National Security Council (NSC).

This was on the backdrop of May 2 2019 meeting comprising of five political party Secretary Generals and the Attorney General that was held at Lake Victoria Hotel Serena, Kigo.

Heads of political party heads at the IPOD summit in Entebbe

However, with less than a year to the 2021 General polls, Mafabi says something tangible needs to be achieved or the country might descend into political turbulence.

“If we don’t deal with POMA we are going for primaries, we are going for what. This country will be thrown into disarray,” he warned.

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On his part, Richard Todwong the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Deputy Secretary General expressed solidarity with his comrades but declined to speculate on the outcomes of the interface.

“As NRM we are equally concerned because we agreed to be with them and it is in the interest of government and political parties that POMA should be implemented as agreed by all parties,” Todwong affirmed.

Proposed POMA regulations

Key among the regulations that were agreed upon, political parties are calling for each district to have an authorized officer charged with the implementation of POMA.

In instances where the Police finds it not conducive to hold a meeting at a specific venue, political parties want the Inspector General of Police or any authorized officer to notify the organizer in writing explaining why.

Currently, under section 3 of the POMA Act, permission to regulate public gatherings lies solely with the Inspector General of Police (IGP).

In case the IGP or any authorized officer does not respond within forty-eight hours after he has been notified, it shall be deemed that the organizer has met all the requirements and is free to proceed with the public meeting at that particular venue.

To solve the misinterpretation of the word ‘public place’ in the implementation of the law, it was unilaterally agreed that this word should connote to street, public park or garden, public bridge, road, square, footway and open space to the public.

“For avoidance of doubt, a public place shall not include a hotel, residential place, residential premises, ordinary place of business of an organizer of a public meeting or an ordinary place of business of a person who has expressly consented in writing for purposes of holding a public meeting,” a proposal on section four reads.

In its current form, section four of POMA categorizes a public place as a gathering, procession or demonstration in a public place or premises held for purposes of discussing views on a matter of public interest.

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