what is ed web http://contentisbae.com/wp-content/uploads/mc4wp-debug-log.php sans-serif; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>These reports are based on wrong information that has been availed to the press. It is necessary to give a correct account of what happened so that the record is put right.
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The meetings in question were organized by opposition leaders including Gen. Mugisha Muntu, the FDC President, Dr.Olara Otunu, the UPC President and civil society activist Bishop Zac Niringiye and the subject of discussion was electoral reforms.
The meetings were planned to be convened in Soroti and Mbale over the last weekend. It was reported that the Police in Mbale and Soroti were informed about the meetings. This is not true. The Police was not informed at all.
First and foremost everybody including the organizers is in agreement that the meetings fall under the domain of the provisions of the Public Order Management Act and that therefore the Police should have been notified in time. As has been explained a number of times, the notification is necessary to enable the Police make appropriate arrangements to provide adequate security and generally police the event.
This is to reiterate that in respect to the meetings that were to be convened in Mbale and Soroti, the Police were not notified and therefore had not put in place the necessary arrangements for the smooth holding of the meetings. It should be noted that such public meetings attract any member of the public and not everybody in attendance has good intentions.
Needless to point out that at the end of the day if anybody is hurt or a bleach of peace is committed, it is the Police that will be answerable. The necessity to inform the Police therefore cannot be overemphasized.
You may be aware that similar meetings organized by the same organizers were held in Mbarara and Masaka before those in Soroti and Mbale were to be held. The question that needs to be answered therefore is why the meetings in Mbarara were appropriately convened and those in Soroti and Mbale not held? The answer is simple. The Police in Mbarara were informed.
The Police in Mbale and Soroti were not informed. It is not known why the organisers discriminately informed the Police about the meetings.
The manner in which for instance the meeting in Mbarara was organized clearly shows that the Organisers are very conversant with the provisions of the Public Order Management Act. Before this meeting was convened, the Organisers informed the Police of the intention to hold the meeting well in time.
They also proved that they have paid for the venue (Boma grounds) and the Police cross checked and confirmed that indeed they paid. On receipt of the notice the Police sat in a meeting with the Organisers and agreed on the manner the meeting was to be policed.
Among others it was agreed that there shall be no procession and that even though the Police was to provide security the Organisers should also have their own personnel ensuring security as well in conjunction with the Police. Their own security was given tags by the Organisers for ease of identification.
This process shows clear collaboration and compliance with the law on the part of the Organisers. This is the same process that the Organisers ought to have duplicated in respect of the meetings that were to be held in Mbale and Soroti.
The Organisers have claimed that they notified the Minister of Internal Affairs of their intention to hold the meetings in Mbale and Soroti. In this respect the Organisers developed and adopted a different procedure that is purely their own innovation.
One wonders why they departed from the procedure they used in respect of the meeting in Mbarara which is in accordance with the law ( S.5 of the POM Act).The person to inform is the Inspector General of Police or an authorized officer.
The Members of the Opposition are alleging a ‘breakdown in the command structure of security agencies’. Nothing is further from the truth. There is no such breakdown as claimed. The security agencies are effectively coordinating their operations and will continue to do so in accordance with the provisions of the law.
As noted above, the difference in the meetings that were not allowed in Mbale and Soroti and those that were held in Mbarara was made possible by theway the organizer’s informed or did not inform Police. Maybe the difference in their approach was intended to create an impression of the breakdown they are talking about.
The procedure for the convening of a public meeting under the Public Order Management Act is clearly specified in S.5 of the Act and should be as follows:
The notice should be in writing and should reach the authorized officer (DPC or RPC) at least three days before the proposed date of the public meeting.
The notice should be in form A in schedule 2 of the Act.
The notice should include the full name, physical and postal address of the organizer and his/her immediate contact
It should also include consent of the owner of the venue.
The proposed date and time of the meeting.
The site of the meeting, the estimated number of persons expected and the purpose of the meeting.
In absence of Form A mentioned above, the organizer shall give notice in writing containing the information required under Form A.
The notice to be given shall be in triplicate and copies shall be given to the applicant and the proprietor of the venue where the meeting is to be held.
After receipt of the notice the authorized officer shall in writing within 48 hours inform the organizer if it is not possible to hold the proposed meeting. It follows therefore that if it is possible to hold the meeting, the modalities shall be agreed upon as was done in the Mbarara case.
In event that the organizer is aggrieved by the decision of the authorized agent he may appear to the magistrate’s court in which jurisdiction the meeting was to take place.
Any organizer who contravenes these requirements commits and offence under the POM Act.
There seem to have been a measure of ignorance on the provisions of the POM Act which could be genuine or feigned hence the need to elaborate on the procedure as above. In fact some people still refer to the law as a bill yet it is an Act. Besides, the provisions of the Act substantially changed from what was contained in the Bill.
It is hoped that with this elaboration the press will now be able to report on these matters from an informed position and be able to cross check the information received whether an intended meeting complied with the provisions of the law or not.
CP Judith Nabakoba