Govt shifts position on MP guards

Kampala. The Minister for Internal Affairs, Gen Jeje Odongo, has said army guards will be assigned to only Members of Parliament (MPs) who ask for them.

“Besides, the matter is still a proposal by President Museveni; it is not a directive,” Gen Odongo told Parliament yesterday.

“The question of sharp shooters, the armoured personnel carriers (APCs) is a proposal – it is not a directive. It is still being discussed,” he added.

President Museveni, in a June 29 letter, and contrary to the APCs that Gen Odongo referenced, instructed Finance minister Matia Kasaija to make funding available for upgrade of MPs’ security.

The add-ons are to include bullet-plated escort vehicles and “sharp shooter” army guards, each wearing a body armour and bullet-proof.

Officials are yet to put a financial figure to the proposal, but computations by this newspaper based on statistics provided by suppliers show the security upgrade will cost at least Shs280 billion.

The proposal has received widespread condemnation, with Opposition leaders as well as some MPs saying they do not need the guards or back-up vehicle.

Earlier, Shadow Internal Affairs minister Muwanga Kivumbi, reacting to Gen Odongo’s comment that “Uganda is safe”, questioned the justification to deploy marksmen to protect lawmakers.

MPs Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga) and Thomas Tayebwa (Mitooma), among others, said the proposal, if implemented, would alienate legislators from constituents.

President Museveni’s directive had followed the assassination of Arua Municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga by gunmen in Kawanda, Wakiso District.

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