Opposition MPs Reject Armored Vehicles, Guards

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In short
Their reaction follows a presidential directive to the finance ministry to procure vehicles which will be used to guarantee the safety of legislators in the wake of wanton killings that have shaken the country over the last two years.

Opposition members of parliament have questioned the planned procurement of escort vehicles and the provision of sharpshooters for legislators, saying that the move is not economically viable.

Their reaction follows a presidential directive to the finance ministry to procure vehicles which will be used to guarantee the safety of legislators in the wake of wanton killings that have shaken the country over the last two years.

According to the president, the government will now provide pickups that will be protected in simple ways against small arms bullets. MPs will also get sharpshooters of the Army.  But a cross-section of legislators says that the provision could cause more threats to members.

Gulu Municipality MP Leandro Komakech says that categorizing some Ugandans as very important is discriminative, adding that MPs cannot be heavily militarized at the expense of voters. Komakech says that it is a logistical nightmare to have army vehicles and security personnel guarding them.
 
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Bukoto East MP Florence Namayanja says that MPs have not been consulted on the provision adding that she will turn down the offer, in good faith.
 
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Kapelebyong County MP Julius Ochen says the additional security is not called for. He says that in the past, even people with security have been killed gruesomely citing former Police spokesperson Andrew Felix Kaweesi, Major Muhammad Kiggundu, and state prosecutor Joan Kagezi.

Ochen says the government should consider a comprehensive strategy, providing enough security for all Ugandans.
 
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Kiira Municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda says MPs are not the only people under threat and securing them against the rest of the country is an indicator of a collapsing state. He, however, hastens to add that the opposition will come up with apposition on security since it is a complex matter that involves people's lives.

Butambala County MP Muwanga Kivumbi says the President should not send the country into panic mode by buying the vehicles and giving MPs military men.
 
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But Oyet Simon, the Nwoya County MP says he could accept the security, except they should not be used to gather information from the opposition.
 
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Kitagwenda County MP Abbas Agaba says the security is very necessary but adds that everyone should take extra precaution on their security.
 
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According to the president's directive, Members of Parliament have been singled out for intimidation and possible attack and that the provision of sharpshooters will be a short-term measure to protect them as the country awaits putting in place other security systems.

It follows an outcry from a section of legislators for additional security following an increase in cases of kidnaps and murders of women in Wakiso and Entebbe, Muslim clerics, and a number of other prominent people over the last two years.
 
The latest was the assassination of Ibrahim Abiriga, the former Arua Municipality MP. Abiriga, one of the architects of the constitutional amendment to remove the cap on the presidential age, was shot alongside his brother cum bodyguard Saidi Buga Kongo, in Kawanda, Wakiso District.

In the aftermath of his tragic death, President Museveni announced a 10-point security plan to curb all forms of criminality in the country. The new strategies included, among others, equipping motor vehicles and motorcycles with tracker electronic number plates, provision of new helmets with illuminated numbers and installing street cameras.

The president also observed a need to reinstate the flying squad and acquisition of drones to monitor the country and acquisition of truck scanners that can detect weapons and other illegal items being sneaked into the country, among other initiatives.

 

About the author

Alex Otto
“Journalism that changes lives is my goal,” Alex Otto has said on more than one occasion. That is his career’s guiding principle. Has been since he was a radio journalist in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu in 2009.

Otto passionately believes his journalism should bring to the fore the voices of the voiceless like the shooting victims of Apaa. Otto tries in his journalism to ask tough questions to those in positions of authority.

Based in the Kampala bureau, Otto is especially interested in covering agriculture, politics, education, human rights, crime, environment and business. He has reported intensively on the post-conflict situation in northern Uganda.

A URN staff member since 2014, Otto previously worked with The Observer Newspaper from 2012 to 2013 and later the Institute for War and Peace Reporting IWPR based in Gulu.

He was the URN Gulu bureau chief 2014-2016.