Government wants Public Order Bill passed

Mr. Kasaija

Government has revived the Public Order Management Bill that seeks to give the Inspector General of Police powers to sanction public meetings.

The former State minister for Internal Affairs, Mr Matia Kasaija, confirmed yesterday in an interview that he is working to make sure the Bill is passed.

“Be assured I want it off my desk as soon as the 9th Parliament settles to work. I would have wanted it passed by July or latest before the end of August,” Mr Kasaija said.

The Bill was shelved late last year after it had been struck down in a Constitutional Court ruling which declared some contents of the Bill illegal, in a case filed by Mr Muwanga Kivumbi.

The Bill has resurfaced at a time when public protests over increased food and fuel prices by the opposition have rocked Kampala and other major towns.

“It is my Bill. I developed it with (Maj. Gen.) Kale Kayihura,” Mr Kasaija said, adding that the provisions of the Bill remain the same.

He also explained that he had wanted the draft law passed last September but was derailed by critics.

Rights infringement
However, Mr Peter Walubiri, a city lawyer, said the Bill infringes on the peoples’ freedoms to assemble.

“You cannot make a law to solve economic and political problems. This draconian law is not legitimate,” he said.

President Museveni announced on Saturday he wanted the Constitution amended to deny bail to demonstrators and offenders who commit “economic sabotage”.

Opposition leaders said yesterday government was in desperation and sought to curtail constitutional freedoms as a last resort.

“Every Ugandan should be prepared to see more draconian legislation in Parliament. It is a desperate attempt to curtail constitutional rights and freedoms,” Ms Alice Alaso, the secretary general of the opposition FDC said.

Security agencies have been accused of using excessive force during the recent walk-to-work protests.

At least 10 people were killed as security forces quelled the protests that spread to different parts of the country.
Opposition leaders have also been brutalised by the forces and accused of trying to “unconstitutionally topple the government.”