Uganada army to oversee polls
Military takes charge in Uganda as tensions rise ahead of pollsPublished on January 11, 2021, The East African
Uganda’s security agencies on Friday warned of firm action against any dissent ahead of and during this week’s election after the military took over law enforcement operations.
The country goes to the polls on Thursday to elect a president and members of parliament following a campaign marred by unprecedented violence in which at least 60 people have been killed in election-related violence, hundreds injured and more than 800 arrested.
Heavily armed security forces, including the army and military police, could be seen patrolling the capital Kampala and other towns, and have occupied several open spaces.
In December President Yoweri Museveni appointed Maj-Gen Paul Lokech, who earned the sobriquet “Lion of Mogadishu” for his exploits fighting against al Shabaab in Somalia, as the new deputy Inspector-General of Police. He replaced another army officer, Maj-Gen Sabiiti Muzeeyi. Recently, President Museveni — who has led Uganda since leading a rebel group to power in 1986, and is standing in his sixth election — appointed Maj. Gen. Kayanja Muhanga to co-ordinate joint security operations involving the police, military and intelligence agencies. Gen Muhanga has previously worked in counter-terrorism operations and also commanded Ugandan troops in the Africa Union Mission to Somalia.
President Museveni defended the military deployments during his New Year address and said they were to guard against violence he alleged is orchestrated by his political opponents. He said that he had deployed army units that have experience in urban warfare in Somalia because of “weakness and corruption” within the regular police force.
The opposition reject claims they are planning violence and say the military deployments are an attempt to intimidate voters and opposition supporters in order to suppress voter turnout and enable vote-rigging.