Ugandan lawmakers will now be guarded by soldiers following a presidential order.
This is after the MPs told President Yoweri Museveni, at a closed-door meeting on Tuesday, that they feared for their lives due to the recent wave of high-profile killings.
The legislators were spooked by the gunning down of ruling party MP Ibrahim Abiriga and his brother on the evening of June 8 on his way home.
The MPs told the President that they have been receiving death threats on social media platforms and text messages.
Museveni, in a bid to calm their fears, ordered the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen David Muhoozi, together with the parliamentary police chief, Anabella Nyamahoro, to collaborate on enhancing the MPs’ security. The two were present at the meeting.
The Inspector General of Police Okoth-Ochola, and Director of the Criminal Investigations Department Grace Akullo were also present.
“This work is going to be done by the UPDF [Ugandan army]. Police that were guarding MPs were running away [because] they consider guarding MPs to be a risky business. That the circumstances under which they [police] work endanger their lives,” said Obongi County MP Hassan Kaps Fungaroo, who defied an Opposition boycott to attend the meeting with the President.
Museveni was told that the MPs who had supported the controversial constitutional changes that lifted presidential age limits were being threatened even after their police guards were replaced by officers from the counter-terrorism unit after the December amendment.
“There are some MPs who have been getting threatening messages. The President said MPs who feel that they are not comfortable with police will have police guards withdrawn and they will get well-trained UPDF soldiers,” said Joseph Kasozi, the ruling NRM secretary-general.
The army will provide MPs’ security for six months, a period President Museveni anticipates his nine interventionist measures to improve national security will have been implemented.
The Ministry of Finance was tasked with handling the cost implications of the new security arrangement.
The President was however non-committal to the lawmakers’ demand for escort cars.
Mr Kasozi said the National Security Council will work out the details considering the budgetary implications of having the escort cars.
The MPs also asked that security be provided at their homes with Aringa South MP Alioni Yorke Odria saying that the threats they face are not only from assassins trailing them on motorcycles.
-Reporting by Solomon Arinaitwe, Daily Monitor.