Minister for Finance, Matia Kasaija has been directed to avail financial resources for procuring a new fleet of pickups to be used for additional security as a measure to beef up the safety of Members of Parliament.
The directive was made by President Yoweri Museveni in a June 29 letter addressed to Minister Kasaija. It followed a closed door meeting on June 20 held between the President and Members of Parliament to particularly discuss the state of security within the country and what can be done to reduce criminality.
In his letter, the President informs Kasaija that part of the discussion in the said meeting was the string of assassinations that have occurred over the last 6 years. These include the killings of Sheikhs, former Police spokesperson, Andrew Felix Kaweesi, former Senior state prosecutor, Joan Kagezi among other murders that remain unresolved.
Following the gruesome killing of former Arua municipality MP, Ibrahim Abiriga, the President addressed the country on the state of security and outlined 10 interventions that he said would reduce criminality.
During the same period, MPs expressed fear saying they had become vulnerable targets of assassins. It is upon this background that Museveni has now made additional security provisions for all legislators.
On top of the Police officers that are currently assigned to each MP for protection, Museveni has directed that each legislator be protected by sharp shooters from the military. The MPs’ security detail will wear body armour plus helmets that is resistant to bullets.
“The MPs already have some Police guards. Those will stay with them. I will however add two other elements; the sharp shooters of the army and follow pickups that will be used against small arms and bullets,” the President wrote in his letter, a copy of which SoftPower News has obtained.
“The sharp shooters themselves should get personal body armour and helmets that are bullet resistant. Even the other Police guards should also get body protection,” Museveni added.
Accordingly, the President has directed that the Finance Minister “immediately” acquires new 4-wheel drive pick-ups with open carriage beds.
He ordered that Kasaija provides additional money for the vehicles “quickly”.
When the other security measures are implemented in the long term, the President says, the fleet of pick-ups will be added to the UPDF fleet.
Museveni who acknowledged that the procurement of the said cars and security items for MPs was “a wastage of resources and manpower” said that this was a short term initiative to safeguard the lives of legislators, and would be done away with when the other measures are put in place.
The President did not indicate how much government is set to spend on this procurement. Recently, the security of Ministers was also upgraded from the Police officers to personnel attached to the Special Forces Command (SFC) the unit that guards the President.
Several MPs have already been spotted chauffeured in 2 or 3 vehicle convoys led by pick-ups with army personel and weapons.