Ugandan President orders 15,000 troops, artillery for polls

President Yoweri Museveni has directed Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and the Uganda Police Force leadership to deploy at least 15,000 police officers.

Ugandan President orders 15,000 troops, artillery for polls

(African Stand) — The National Resistance Movement (NRM) primaries, a process in which the ruling party’s members will sieve out flag bearers for elective positions for Parliament and Local Government structures, has sucked in the entire security architecture of the country, The Daily Monitor reported.

A joint investigation by the East African Center for Investigative Reporting (EACIR) and Saturday Monitor into the turbulent elections in which thousands of aspirants are competing for the party’s flag, can reveal that President Museveni has directed Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and the Uganda Police Force leadership to deploy at least 15,000 police officers, with UPDF commanders at the apex of the operation in districts and regions mapped as hotspots.

The President also directed that all government vehicles in districts be used for these operations and Chief Administrative Officers, working with Resident District Commissioners (RDC), avail transport for the same.

In a radio message dated September 3, and sent to UPDF headquarters at 1805 hours (6.05 pm) from the President through the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Gen David Muhoozi, the President instructed the army chief to meet IGP [Inspector General of Police Martins Okoth Ochola, and brief him.
The President then breaks down his command into seven instructions.

The brief starts with a background of the chaotic election atmosphere.

“Owing to the opportunists that are creating tensions among our people during the NRM primaries and the subsequent elections, I suggest that the 1,500 sub-counties of Uganda as the policing zones per area are more manageable than the present inflated number.”

Mr Museveni then instructs: “Starting tomorrow (Friday) September 3 up to September 5, deploy 10 mounted police personnel per policing zone, mounted on a pick up [truck] and residing in the police zone 24 hours a day. Internal Affairs to ensure that the vehicles are fueled and ready to move at a moment’s notice.”

According to the instruction, all government vehicles in the districts are to be commandeered and used for this purpose.

The Uganda Police Force, the commander in chief argued, has enough manpower and if it used the 1,500 old sub-counties as zones, they would need a total of 15,000 policemen, “mounted and ready to move or resting but near their vehicles.”

To illustrate his point on the scope of the old sub-counties as the benchmark, the NRM ruling party’s chairman and presidential flag bearer in the 2021 presidential election, gives the example of Nakaseke area with the old sub-counties of Semuto, Nakaseke, Kapeeka, Wakyato and Ngoma, “although Ngoma was too big.”

He also shares the example of Ntungamo District where the original sub-counties comprised Ntungamo, Rweikyiniro, Ruhaama, Rukoni, Ihunga, Bwongyera, Rubaare, Kayonza and Kabezi. These, the President notes, should be the policing zones for elections and other mass operations.

“I don’t want to hear any opportunists intimidating, beating, etc any Ugandan without prompt action by the police. Anybody attacking the wanainchi (citizens) must be arrested and there must be no police bond. They should all wait for the court to decide,” he ordered.

Ideally, police bond is usually granted to persons arrested after the police have preferred a charge against them and are, as a human right, not issued or denied at the behest of presidential directives.

On September 4, at 1323 hours (1.23 am), the President’s radio message was sent by the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs to all units, including the Inspector General of Police, Deputy Chief of Defence Forces, the Joint Chief of Staff and the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI).

The UPDF spokesperson, Brig Flavia Byekwaso, said the deployment of the UPDF soldiers is to back up the civilian authorities. “We only come in when we are called upon to help. And the law allows us in situations where police are likely going to be overwhelmed,” she said.
Deployment concept

In the brief, the CDF reiterates that he “met the police leadership on how to operationalise the deployment concept as directed by the President in support of the police to ensure peaceful primary elections.”

In that meeting with the police leadership, it was further agreed that “we assign very senior police and UPDF leaders to reinforce the local police leaders.”

While appearing on the Capital Gang talk show on Capital FM on Saturday, government spokesman Ofwono Opondo told listeners that the ruling party had mapped out ‘hot spots,’ referring to areas where elections would be potentially problematic.

Sembabule District was mentioned by Mr Opondo as one of the hotspots.
In the communication seen by the EACIR and Saturday Monitor, the areas are given security codes. Sembabule is called Alpha and Brig Sabiiti Muzeyi, the Deputy IGP, assisted by Brig Deus Sande and Brig Winston Byaruhanga, are assigned.

Sheema is referred to as ‘Bravo’ and Assistant IGP Edward Ochom is deployed there, assisted by Brig Francis Takirwa while Mbale is coded as Delta with Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Wesley Nganizi assisted by 3rd Division commander, Brig Joseph Balikudembe, deployed in the newly created city.

West Nile is coded as Echo and SSP Christopher Kasalawo assisted by fourth division commander Brig Bonny Bamweseki are deployed there while SSP John Nuwagira assisted by first Division Commander Maj Gen Sam Kawanga were tasked to maintain law and order in Nakaseke which is coded as Foxtrot. Namutumba is labelled as Golf and SSP Frank Mwesigwa assisted by Commander Brig Peter Omola were assigned to ensure the elections go smoothly.

The mentioned UPDF commanders, Gen Muhoozi ordered, “should marry up with the mentioned police commanders today (Friday) without fail to synchronise plans. Campaigns end today. No movement beyond the curfew time. Mobilise transport from the districts through RDCs and CAOs (Chief Administrative Officers). Firmly take action on those that breach the rules.”

At 1505 hours (3.05 am) on Friday, President Museveni sent another message titled “From President to CDF for immediate conveyance to IGP’ in which he focuses, this time around, on the fact that “the unrepentant Opportunists cannot understand the importance of the sovereignty of the people of Uganda. Uganda belongs to the people, not the leaders. It is their sovereign right to elect whoever they want.” Any use of threats, intimidation, manipulation, rigging, let alone actual attacks, the head of state instructed: “must be crushed without mercy.”

The President shares: “I have heard of two incidents in Ssembabule, one involving Anifa Kawooya, who was attacked and injured on Sunday. All those involved must be arrested and charged with the necessary offences. The second one was near Sam Kutesa’s house where a big convoy at about twenty minutes past midnight crushed into the security barrier around the home and the minister’s guards had to fire bullets.”

This, Mr Museveni, whose young brother is competing for the NRM flag with the daughter of his brother in law, Mr Sam Kutesa, the Foreign Affairs minister, noted, was during curfew time.

He then rhetorically asks where the convoy was going and why the convoy was used in the first place, especially when, owing to Covid-19 standard operating procedures, people are not supposed to congregate.

“I later learnt that the same convoy was beating people along the way. These two groups must be arrested by 1700 hours (5 pm on Friday). There must also be no police bond for them. Report action by 1900 hours today (7 pm on Friday),” he ordered.

The President then tackled the issue of some trouble makers being his relatives, saying it is “a lot of nonsense. In our struggles, some of my relatives were with Idi Amin, some with Obote, the security forces should act against the mistake makers without fear. Nobody is above the law. Deal with facts and the law.”

Wandukwa Henry

Written by Wandukwa Henry

Wandukwa Henry is a graduate from the University of Nairobi with a Bachelor of Computer Science and now he is an African Stand correspondent covering the East African region.

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