Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The National Resistance Movement-NRM has launched the vote protection team for the presidential flag bearer Yoweri Kaguta Museveni ahead of the 2021 elections, with some government security officers defending their role in it.
The event held at the National Chairman’s Office in Kyambogo attracted politicians, civil servants and members of the security agencies from Kampala and all over the country who pledged to secure President Museveni’s votes come 2021.
Saleh Kamba, the head of political intelligence and operations at the office of the National chairperson of NRM, unveiled the vote protection team at an event attended by members of key security organizations. They include, Regional crime officers, Regional intelligence officers, security officers, Resident District Commissioners, and police and army officers. UPDF officers present did not participate in the deliberations, only listening but some ISO and police officers openly supported and defended their participation in the vote protecting team.
In an interview with journalists, Kamba said that the security were brought on board especially because the opposition have been threatening the electoral process with violence. Kamba says these groups of over 200 people will be transformed into the trainers of trainers who are supposed to impart knowledge to the people on the grassroots and polling agents.
He says as much as NRM has support and overwhelming popularity, if the votes are not protected, they might not achieve. The meeting was meant to educate the trainers on the vote protection guidelines for President Museveni. Kamba said that all the security sectors are there to help the team achieve their objective.
Kamba says UPDF, police and the intelligence services have to serve President Museveni, as he is their employer. He says the President is the head of civil servants and the commander in chief of the armed forces and the national chairman of the NRM, meaning people under these categories are supposed to support him.
Kamba says that all these people are cadres in the office of the President and therefore need to support him in the vote protection. He says people who think the police, army and intelligence are separate from the NRM are misguided.
Some of the big security names present at the launch were Deputy Director Internal Security Organisation (ISO), Emmy Katabazi and the Director Criminal Intelligence at Uganda Police ,Brigadier Chris Damulira Serunjogi. Other officers who attended the event were UPDF officers, Lt. Col Deo Akiiki, and Brigadier General Henry Matsiko.
ISO Deputy Director Katabazi as he made his remarks said that he is only appointed by the President, and he therefore serves his interests. Katabazi warned those who wish to destabilize Uganda, saying as security they they have a plan to secure elections.
He says that some Ugandans and the opposition are forgetting the fact that they can abuse President Museveni and sleep well in their houses undisturbed.
On his part, the Director Criminal Intelligence at Uganda Police, Brigadier Chris Damulira Serunjogi said they have mapped out hotspots in the country for violence, and he encouraged the vote protection team to share information with intelligence.
Damulira also says that they will not tolerate any plan that breeds violence and they have learnt a lot from the November violence in Kampala which left over 50 dead.
The team were urged to mobilize support for president Museveni, since they cannot protect what they do not have if they don’t mobilize. They are also to observe any inconsistencies and report them, and also support the NRM grassroot structures in the different regions.
When we asked why as a serving officer of a disciplined force he joined a partisan assembly, Lt Col Deo Akiiki explained that the UPDF officers present were invited as members of the inter agency arrangements to secure the elections, but did not participate, though they listened intently. He said that even if National Unity Platform -NUP invited them, they would attend but not deliberate in the proceedings.
Akiiki declined to comment on the enthusiastic support for the NRM candidate shown by the officers from ISO and Police, explaining that they fall under different administration from UPDF. We could not get a comment from the spokespersons for the ISO or UPF as their phones were not being picked. EC spokesperson Paul Bukenya would not pick either to explain if NRM would be requested to explain the participation of armed forces members in its strategy meetings.