JULY 8, 2010: Demonstrations At Parliament Banned

Demonstrations At Parliament Banned

SOURCE: New Vision

By Madinah Tebajjukira

Kampala — Parliament has introduced new security guidelines, banning demonstrations there.

Demonstrators will not have access to the entire building where the Parliament is situated, galleries, chambers and offices.

"Demonstration of whatever nature shall not be allowed in the precincts of Parliament. An attempt to hold any such demonstrations shall be quelled by the Sergeant-at-Arms with the help of the Police," read the guidelines, issued by the Office of the Speaker.

However, in the new guidelines, Parliament disassociated itself from liability that may arise from measures taken to ensure compliance.

The guidelines come barely three months after a clash between Police and women activists of the opposition Inter- Party Cooperation (IPC). The women were demonstrating at Parliament against the current Electoral Commission.

The women accessed Parliament as ordinary members of the public, after which they gathered, wore their black T-shirts and started the demonstration at the entry to Parliament.

The incident caused fracas in Parliament, which partly led to the suspension of five legislators from the opposition the following day.

On the day the MPs were suspended, deputy Speaker Rebecca Kadaga said some IPC women, who were in the public gallery then, had thrown stones at her.

The new guidelines also require members of the public to seek permission two days earlier from the Clerk to Parliament in order to attend parliamentary sittings, and to access the Speaker's office.

The guidelines, displayed on all Parliament noticeboards, advise members of the public intending to petition Parliament to seek permission from the Sergeant at Arms two days before delivering the petition.

The new guidelines also dictate that only 10 people at a time shall be allowed to Parliament to hand over petitions to the Speaker.

The Parliamentary Powers and Privileges, Access to the Precincts of Parliament Order, 2010, bars strangers from holding and attending press conferences within Parliament.

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