Uganda’s Parliament on Tuesday afternoon passed the Public Order Management Bill 2011 with the contentious clause 8 that indicates whoever wishes to hold a public rally or gathering in public premises must first seek police permission.
Several opposition politicians and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) had urged parliament not to pass the bill in its current form. Among the CSOs that made a passionate please include Amnesty International.
Amnesty International’s African deputy director Sarah Jackson warned the bill might infringe on basic freedoms in the country if passed.
And in particular citing the right to organize and participate in public meetings or gatherings which discuss political issues as these would now be subject to heavy restrictions and controls from police.
On Tuesday, opposition MPs attempted to challenge the passing the bill by indicating how the house had two order papers to choose from. One of the order papers members had did not indicate that the Public Order Management Bill would be discussed.
But Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah told MPs that order papers can always be changed and that a change could not stop using the new order paper.
The Leader of Opposition Nandala Mafabi tried to engage the Speaker about the order papers but Oulanyah ignored his pleas.
Amidst a lot of heckling, Oulanyah then called for voting on the bill to start.
In the same sitting, Oulanyah still moved under rule 80 of naming and suspending a Member of Parliament and suspended Soroti Woman MP Angelline Ossege from three sittings of the house. She is also barred from accessing parliamentary precincts and committee sittings of the house.
With this said, Oulanyah directed the Clerk to move to the next business in a chaotic and noisy house.
Opposition MPs led by their leader Nandala Mafabi then resorted to shouting and chanting, “No way! No way!” The MPs moved to surround the desk patch with the mess.
Last Thursday the Bill was not concluded as the deputy speaker had directed MPs to vote on it and MP Otto Odonga grabbed the roll call list and tore the paper.
In the same sitting Oulanyah suspended three MPS Odongo Otto, Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda and Theodore Ssekikubo.