The Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) is threatening to withdraw its guards from Members of Parliament in the wake of increasing cases of violence ahead of Friday’s NRM parliamentary primaries.
According to a statement issued by UPDF spokesperson, Brig Flavia Byekwaso, the army has discovered that some politicians are using the soldiers for purposes other than those they were given them for.
Byekwaso said that the army had noticed that MPs who were given military escorts for their personal security in the wake of armed criminality, are using them to settle their political scores.
A number of MPs were given armed guards in December 2017 following the passing of an amendment to the Constitution to scrap presidential age limits. This was after the majority of the 317 MPs that supported the controversial amendment claimed to be under threat.
The MPs security was beefed up after the June 8, 2018 shooting of then Arua municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga when President Yoweri Museveni directed the mostly at risk MPs be given escort pick-up vehicles with open carriage beds plus sharp shooter guards.
To the disappointment of the UPDF leadership, the officers are now being used in partisan activities.
“This is contrary to the reason they were assigned and is likely to involve them in compromising yet unnecessary and avoidable violence between the contending political groups. For this reason, the UPDF leadership directs that the soldiers should not be misused and where this is found to happen, they will be promptly withdrawn,” the statement says.
The UPDF warning comes at a time when soldiers of different candidates are getting involved in fights with political opponents. Such cases have been cited in Sembabule district where armed guards belonging to Shartsi Kutesa, the daughter to Minister Sam Kutesa and those of Godfrey Aine, the young brother to President Museveni both competing for Mawogola north constituency, were involved in fights on behalf of their principals.
Similar cases have been cited in Lwemiyaga County where the incumbent Theodore Ssekikubo is tussling it out with Minister Joy Kabatsi. Clashes have also been recorded in Kassanda district, Hoima district, Kazo district, Wakiso district among others.