The Uganda Police has issued a reminder to leaders of the National Unity Platform (NUP) to adhere to the established guidelines as they conduct their nationwide tours.
This reminder comes in response to guidelines issued by the police last week for NUP party members participating in national mobilization events.
The aim is to ensure security, prevent breaches of peace, and maintain a peaceful and lawful environment in the regions where NUP is opening offices.
Speaking to the press in Kampala, Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga stated that they are simply reiterating the importance of following the agreed-upon framework.
He noted instances where NUP activities had deviated from the set guidelines, such as conducting campaigns in non-designated areas.
Enanga pointed out that while political parties have the right to carry out their activities within their premises without restrictions, the Police Act, under section 32 (1), empowers the police to regulate assemblies and public meetings.
The Act allows for the regulation of music, drumming, public address systems on public roads, and the conduct of assemblies and processions.
He emphasized the need for NUP to conduct its activities peacefully, adhere to the rule of law, and work within the framework established in consultation with territorial commanders.
Enanga cited past experiences where unregulated public events led to public disorder, property damage, and disruptions to communities.
He emphasized the importance of complying with police directives, including using approved routes.
The Public Order Management (POMA) Act of 2013 requires event organizers to provide written notice to the authorized officer at least three days but not more than 15 days before the proposed date of a public meeting.
The notice should include details such as the organizer’s name, address, and contact information, consent of the venue owner, proposed date and time, and estimated number of attendees.
NUP Secretary-General Lewis Rubongoya affirmed their compliance with police guidelines and stated that they address their supporters in designated locations.
He mentioned that they adapt to security alerts and venue changes to ensure compliance.
Observers have noted that these peaceful nationwide tours by the Opposition raise questions about the police’s attitude towards the political rights of Ugandans.
Human rights defender Ms. Sarah Bireete suggests that international scrutiny, including concerns from the UN Human Rights Commission, the European Union, and the United States, as well as the World Bank’s suspension of funding due to human rights and inclusive development issues, may have contributed to the police’s current approach.
However, Bireete also emphasized the importance of enjoying inherent rights as citizens without relying on external scrutiny.