Well, now the Constitutional Court came today with a striking judgment. That the Section 8 of the Public Order Management Act of 2013 is unconstitutional. Section 8 of the POMA is very clear. That gives the powers to officers and give the police the authority to block any meeting. It also gives the powers to the Police to disperse a meeting. Also, finally the sub-section also issues the officers in question the powers to assess if a person is disobeying the law or unlawfully assembles. Which makes that person liable for sentencing according to the Penal Code section 117.
Therefore, today’s judgment is vital, as the Police Force by definition now doesn’t have the authority to block any gathering. Neither disperse it or issue an order to stop the public from participate in any public meeting/gathering. This here is an direct consequence of the judgment today.
We knew this law was draconian. The whole law isn’t null and void, just one part of it, but it takes away the powers to enforce it. The Police Force, the authorities is limited by this. This law has banned concerts, public gatherings, consultation meetings, anniversary rallies, opening of political party offices and so fourth. The state has given all sorts of orders and usage of the law to an extent, where the opposition is futile. They couldn’t conduct either internal party organizations nor actually try to gain new followers, since the state stopped it or never allowed them to publicly to gather in the first place.
This law was deemed the Anti-Besigye Act, ABA, the act against Besigye and his political effort to undermine the regime. This came after the Walk to Work. Now, the opposition has one an important battle in the Courts.
There was on judge who didn’t see it like this, that was Stephen Musota. Remember that man, because he stated this, he was the one voting in favour of Section 8 of POMA. Because, there was 4-1 and therefore, it was null and void. However, Stephen stated this: “The limits are now cast in stone and are no longer at the whims or imagination of the Inspector General of Police or his authorized officers”. That is why the whims of the IGP shouldn’t be the factor to allow people to assemble or not. This is why its unconstitutional, which is stated by the other judges on this matter.
What I am suspecting will happen is that the National Resistance Movement will revise and amend this bill. To ensure they have the powers to stop meetings and such before the General Elections 2021. They have had the good need of this bill for years. This will not go away without a blast. I don’t believe the NRM will concede and give way that easily. Not when the rise of Bobi Wine and Besigye is now allowed and cannot be stopped. That is what the NRM worried about and will find new ways to silence it. Especially, when the Police Force has been preoccupied with this partisan politicking for years. Peace.