Uganda passes new law against public protests

AP News
Posted: Aug 06, 2013 9:50 AM

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — A spokeswoman for Uganda's parliament says lawmakers have passed a bill that critics say will make it impossible to stage street protests against the government.

Spokeswoman Helen Kawesa said the Public Order Management Bill was passed Tuesday, ending months of acrimonious debate between the authorities and opposition activists who say the bill criminalizes peaceful protest.

Amnesty International said the law "represents a serious blow to open political debate" in a country that's seeing more protests against its long-serving president.

The law gives the police unprecedented powers to control public meetings, including the use of force to break up gatherings held without authorization.

President Yoweri Museveni has held power in Uganda since 1986, but calls have increased in recent years for political change.