NUP and police cannot agree on new round of guided tours

The police are back in action and have warned that new rounds of consultative and mobilization meetings of the National Unity Platform (NUP) party will not be allowed to resume this week.

NUP announced at the weekend that it would resume its national tour and consultative meetings, starting with Kamuli district on Wednesday.

The itinerary would then take them across the country to Bugweri, Pallisa, Tororo, Mityana, Mukono, Masaka, Kyotera, Bukomansimbi, Masindi, Packwach, Zombo, Koboko, Sembabule, Kiruhura, Bushenyi, Rukungiri, Gulu and Pader.

The tours, which are planned as part of preparations for the upcoming 2026 general elections, will conclude in Kitgum district.

But police spokesperson Fred Enanga told reporters yesterday that the Force suspended NUP tours last year after the party breached several guidelines issued by the police.

“The suspension continues until NUP leaders comply with police directives and continue to abide by the law,” Enanga said.

“We are aware of your schedule to continue with your consultative meetings, but you should know that, according to the Constitution, we have a duty to maintain peace and order. Our priority has always been to ensure that Ugandans and visitors enjoy a safe environment,” Enanga said.

The police spokesperson also said they continue to maintain last year’s ban on gatherings until the opposition political party rectifies some problems.

In September last year, during the NUP campaign rally in Hoima district, Norman Mugisa, an NUP supporter, was allegedly killed in a convoy accompanying NUP president Mr Kyagulanyi. The accident left another 10 people injured.

But in an interview with this publication, he said the NUP will continue with its second round of consultations at the national level.

“We have followed all the guidelines like any other political party in this country. We are also a registered political party in this country and the Constitution requires us to hold consultation meetings in all places where our members are located,” Mufumbiro said.

“We encourage all Ugandans to support us to ensure a better Uganda. The police didn’t stop us last time. The police found us when we had finished the first phase of our consultation meetings. And we are sure that they will offer the same security that they offered in the first phase.”

Last year, NUP toured several places including Mayuge, Busia, Mbale, Mbarara, Kasese, Kabale, Arua and Luweero among others where thousands of people came to hear their message.

However, their mobilization suffered a setback when the police banned the guided tours, claiming that the NUP had deviated from what had been agreed before the police allowed them to continue.

A police statement signed by the then deputy inspector general of police, Tumusiime Katsigazi, said they could not allow the NUP tours to continue because Kyagulanyi had allegedly attacked President Museveni and threatened to overthrow an elected government.

“In Kasana-Luweero, mobilization activity was used to incite violence, promote sectarianism, make illegitimate calls for the dismissal of an elected government and issue defamatory statements against the President of the Republic of Uganda. In view of the flagrant violations of the aforementioned guidelines, the activities of the NUP are suspended immediately,” the statement then read in part.

But constitutional lawyer Peter Walubiri and human rights lawyer Eron Kizza dismissed the police action as baseless and unconstitutional, saying the police have no power to stop a public assembly.

“According to the Public Order Management Act of 2021, as amended and outlined by the court, you only have to inform the police that a meeting will be held tomorrow,” Walubiri said.

“You just inform them so they can help you with traffic management and other issues; If you expect a large number of people, that’s what the law says. But the police, despite the court rulings, despite the clarifications, insist that he must be acquitted,” he added.

He said. “There is no law that requires police authorization. But even we in the political class have sometimes written to seek police clearance, no police clearance is needed. “I have celebrated the holidays in my house without police authorization.”

Kiiza urged the NUP to continue with the meetings saying: “They are not violent, unarmed meetings. So the NUP must continue because there is nothing they can do that they have not done legally.”

“The police have no power to arrest them because consultative meetings are a constitutional right and are a form of freedom of association and expression,” he added.

Kiiza said: “The Police Law says it has the power to regulate. To regulate is not to stop but to facilitate, for example, to provide security. And if there are people who are criminals within a meeting, isolate them from non-criminals.”

Section 32(1) of the Uganda Police Act 2006 gives the police powers to regulate gatherings and processions. “Any officer in charge of the police may issue orders for the purpose of…directing the conduct of meetings and processions on a public highway or street or in places of public recreation and the route and times through which any procession may pass.” ”.

The Public Order Management Act 2013 states that organizers of public gatherings must notify the police in writing no more than 15 days before the proposed date of the gathering.