BY FRANKLIN DRAKU
The army has warned politicians to stop using their military bodyguards in partisan political campaigns during the ongoing National Resistance Movement (NRM) campaigns.
NRM party primaries are already threatening to explode with ministers and other party officials deploying their armed guards to attack supporters of their opponents.
UPDF bodyguards have been seen in different parts of the country, while the ministers and Members of Parliament (MPs) are campaigning for the NRM primaries scheduled for tomorrow.
Government in 2017, announced that it would deploy sharp-shooters to guard legislators and very important government officials after the killing of the former Arua Municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga.
However, UPDF now says the officers are being used in partisan activities and has warned such officers are acting in violation of their professional code of ethics and military discipline.
Maj Gen Flavia Byekwaso, the army spokesperson, in a press release yesterday warned that the UPDF is aware of what is happening and will soon swing into action if the officers continued to be used for the wrong reasons.
“It has come to our notice that many MPs across the political divide who were given military escorts for their personal security in the wake of armed criminality last year, have started misusing these soldiers in the current political season. 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,” she said.
Gen Byekwaso said all those vying for political positions should leave the army out of their battles because they serve the nation, not individuals.
The 1995 Constitution of Uganda says the UPDF shall be non-partisan, national in character, patriotic, professional, disciplined, productive and subordinate to the civilian authority.
“For this reason, the UPDF leadership directs that its soldiers should not be misused and where this is found to happen, they will be promptly withdrawn. The contenders for political office should not involve and/or misuse these soldiers and policemen, who were assigned purely for a different and clear purpose of ensuring the personal security of the MPs,” she said.
While the Constitution gives clear direction for the UPDF and other armed forces in relation to civilian authority, the same have continued to misuse the powers given to them. In 2017, at the height of the plot to remove the age limit from the Constitution, the members of the Special Forces invaded Parliament, beat up the Opposition legislators, allowing amendment of the Constitution.