Entebbe- Delegates at the Monday Interparty Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD) Summit, who endured almost 10 hours while waiting for the arrival of President Yoweri Museveni, have instructed Parliament to amend the controversial Public Order Management Act (POMA), to curtail police brutality towards Opposition groups.
The summit that was held at Protea Hotel in Entebbe, was attended by President Museveni the chairman of the National Resistance Movement (NRM), Mr Jimmy Akena, the leader of Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC), Mr Muhammad Kibirige Mayanja; who represented Justice Forum (Jeema) leader, Mr Asuman Basalirwa and Mr Norbert Mao the Democratic Party president.
Mr Mao is the current chairman of IPOD.
The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) was not represented since the party announced last week that the meeting was an insignificant “social event”.
In a joint statement after a four-hour summit, the leaders agreed that amendments to POMA be tabled in Parliament within two months, to reduce the powers of the Inspector General of Police (IGP).
In its current form, the law gives the IGP sole authority to Opposition politicians and activists to hold public rallies and meetings anywhere in Uganda.
POMA was in 2005 passed without regulations on how it would be implemented which allowed police to take it upon themselves to decide whether a political meeting by Opposition groups takes place or not, yet they are only supposed to be notified about such gatherings.
IPOD delegates instructed the Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, the leader of government business in Parliament, to table the POMA amendments which will spell out regulations how the law would be implemented.
The National Security Council will also get the proposed amendments to enable its members contribute to the proposals.
In the proposed amendments that were pushed by Opposition parties, who have been victims of police brutality, district police commanders will only be only about a political gathering not less than 48 hours to the event.
The IPOD Summit also adopted the proposal for candidates seeking to contest as independents to resign from their respective political parties, 12 months prior to elections.
The move is intended to help political parties to block supporters from running as independent candidates immediately after losing party primary elections, where flag bearers are chosen.
On other electoral reforms, it was agreed during that candidates who are sponsored by political parties should not be required to get signatures from voters before being nominated.
The meeting also agreed to review nomination fees for candidates to make vying for political offices more affordable and inclusive.
Currently, aspirants intending to contest for Member of Parliament are supposed to pay Shs3 million as nomination fee while presidential candidates have to pay Shs20 million.
The delegates also suggested that nomination fees for losing candidates should be refunded; and courts of law to conclude hearing of election petitions for parliamentarian elections within one year.
It was also agreed that newly-created constituencies and administrative units should only hold elections in a specified period of any given year or to hold such elections in the next election cycle to avoid costs and disruption of electioneering.
Earlier, President Museveni asked Opposition politicians to embrace such meetings and dialogue because it is such platforms where pertinent political issues are discussed.
Mr Museveni also said there is need for Opposition politicians to start working for their constituents instead of only concentrating on debating national matters.
"Don't waste time claiming you are opposition and you are doing nothing to the people," be said, adding that when he was still a youth and a supporter of DP, he worked for his people in the current Kiruhura District while opposing UPC leadership.
Mr Museveni used the meeting to scold the leadership of FDC who once again boycotted the meeting, yet the party is a member of IPOD.
“If you are in leadership and then say I don't want to talk, then go home and graze cows. For me, when you call for dialogue, I will be there the following morning. It is a biblical command to talk," he said.
Mr Mao also accused the FDC of practicing “brinkmanship” “with their leader, Mr Patrick Amuriat Oboi boycotting the summit even when they fully participated in the IPOD Council meetings where the Monday agenda was approved.
"I call upon the FDC to change the attitude of boycotting. What they are doing is brinkmanship just to allow situations escalate. We don't come to table of dialogue because of fear, we come here filled with confidence," he said.
He said that all the parties under the IPOD Summit, including FDC have already received Shs1 billion from the Netherlands Institute of Multiparty Democracy to help them on development and mobilization of party supporters.
Mr Mao, also wondered how Mr Museveni can “comfortably preside” over a country soaked in corruption to the extent that even a 7-year-old singer Fresh Kid has composed songs about Uganda’s misarable situation.