Gen Katumba joins Kayihura to arm civilians


IGP Gen Kale Kayihura and Army Commander Gen Katumba Wamala


Heads of security agencies in the country under the Joint Operation Command have unanimously voted in support of the Presidential directive to arm civilians.

Last month, President Museveni issued a directive to the Joint Operation Command to train and arm selected civilians in various institutions such as markets, schools and universities in the fight against terrorism.

The Joint Operation Command is chaired by the Inspector General of Police, General Kale Kayihura.

It is comprised of the Chief of Defense Forces (CDF) Gen Katumba Wamala, Commissioner General of Uganda Prisons Dr. Johnson Byabashaija, the Director General External Security Organization (ESO) and Director General Internal Security Organisation among others.

Recently, the security chiefs met at the Joint Operation Command Center at Naguru Police Headquarters to consider the directive.

According to a highly placed source, the members agreed that the directive was applicable and not a security threat. The meeting reportedly resolved that those who will be trained and armed will only access the guns when there is eminent danger.

Polly Namaye, the Deputy Police spokesperson says the guns will be kept at the nearest police post and will only be given to the individuals after they have signed for them.

The resolution is said to have been reached after a heated debate by the various commanders on how safe the guns would be in the hands of civilians.

This stemmed from concerns about the increased attacks targeting Police Officers yet they are trained to withstand such attacks.

Some of the security chiefs argued that arming civilians and leaving them on their own would make them targets of armed robbers.

Following the resolution, the Joint Operation Command has forwarded the directive to the Police Advisory committee (PAC) to come up with guidelines and a frame work for implementation.

Fred Enanga, the police spokesperson says, the directive cannot be contested as it is an order from the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and thus has to be worked on by all means.

PAC is to set up  a team of people that will draft the operational framework before it is discussed by committee members and passed to the Internal Affairs Ministry to be developed into a policy paper and then to Cabinet.

The frame work is to include; screening methods for persons to be armed, number of people per institution, period of training, replacement of volunteers and mandate of institution among others.

Despite the unanimous approval of the directive, a section of civil society and religious leaders have openly spoke against the move.

The Mufti of Uganda Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubaje recently asked against government to reconsider the move to arm civilians saying it would worsen gun crime in the country.

While addressing mourners at the burial of Sheikh Rashid Wafula at Nakaloke Town council grounds last month, the Mufti said arming civilians was a bad idea.

Sheikh Wafula was gunned down by unidentified assailants as he approached his home in Nakaloke town council.

The Mufti cited the unrest in some Middle East countries, where some governments armed civilians in the terror fight, but the policy has backfired.

Sheikh Mubaje argued that Ugandans are not disciplined to handle and warned that they would use the guns to settle personal scores.

He instead asked government to strengthen security agencies to deal with the terror threat.


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