Heavy army deployment worries residents in Masindi

The Kasongoire Village Chairman in Budongo Sub-county, Masindi District, is worried about the heavy deployment of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers to the area.

Mr Ezekiel Kasaija, says it is more than two weeks since the army personnel was deployed to the village even occupying the nearby forest causing panic among the residents.

The chairman vows to petition the Masindi Resident District Commissioner (RDC) about the deployment of the soldiers to the village adding that if the office is not aware of the soldiers’ presence there, a punishment should be meted out on the responsible for the unofficial act.

Audio: Kasaija on army deployment (Runyoro/Rutooro)

Mr Kasaija says following the deployment, one of the residents, Mr Edison Katusiime, was on Tuesday morning arrested by men clad in military fatigue before he was taken to Masindi Central Police Station on allegations of destroying campaign posters for the National Resistance Movement (NRM) candidate for Bujenje County in the 2021 parliamentary poll, Lt (Rtd) Patrick Kasumba.

The chairman says the arrest followed a protest by a section of residents against the display of Lt Kasumba’s poster in the village.

This resulted in the candidate’s supporters allegedly led by his campaign manager identified only as Baguma accusing Mr Katusiime of purportedly destroying the poster at around 2am, according to the chairman.

Audio: Kasaija on poster (Runyoro/Rutooro)

When contacted, Mr Kasumba, who is the incumbent Member of Parliament, said his political campaigners reported a case of the destruction of his posters in Kasongoire allegedly by Mr Katusiime leading to his arrest before being handed over to police at Masindi station for legal action.

However, the retired army officer dismissed allegations that Mr Katusiime was arrested by soldiers.

Mr Kasumba denied that he had deployed soldiers to Kasongoire adding that those in the area could be soldiers attached to NFA or those guarding a sugarcane plantation. He emphatically said that he was not aware of any deployment there.

Audio: Kasumba on deployment (Mixture of English with Runyoro/Rutooro)

Efforts by Kazi-njema News to get a comment from the Masindi District Police Commander over matter were futile.

However, Capt Steven Tumwesige, the mid western region UPDF spokesperson, says the soldiers are in the area on their normal duties allaying fears that they are a danger to the residents.

“There is no cause of alarm that there are some rebels there, or he has seen strange people there or that there have been some subversive activities in the area that causing him to fear. What he has to know is that we are in the period of political campaigns and before the president visits any place, there is always an advance team of the SFC (Special Forces Command) [soldiers]. The president has not yet come to Bunyoro sub region. Let him not fear. There is no cause of alarm, the soldiers are on their normal duty,” Capt Tumwesige said.

Audio: Tumwesige on deployment (Runyoro/Rutooro)

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