The Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) has said it will withdraw its soldiers that are guarding Members of Parliament (MP) if they involve them in criminal activities during elections.
Brig. Flavia Byekwaso, the defence spokesperson, said soldiers, who had been assigned for personal protection, are now being turned into political agents.
"It has come to our notice that many members of Parliament across the political divide who were given military escorts for their personal security in the wake of armed criminality last year have started misusing these soldiers in the current political season," Brig. Byekwaso said in a statement.
"This is contrary to the reason they were assigned and is likely to involve them in compromising yet unnecessary and avoidable violence between the contending political groups."
Basing on this, the defence spokesperson noted that any soldier caught in illegitimate activities will be withdrawn from escort duties.
"For this reason, the UPDF leadership directs that its soldiers should not be misused and where this is found to happen, they will be promptly withdrawn," she said. "The contenders for political office should not involve and/or misuse these soldiers and policemen, who were assigned purely, for a different and clear purpose of ensuring the persona security of the members of Parliament."
UPDF says the directive also applies to all the others contending for political office but are armed or have armed escorts.
We were not immediately able to confirm the number of soldiers involved in guarding legislators.
In 2018, President Museveni activated the plan to have military "sharp-shooters" at the disposal of MPs who were being "singled out" for attacks.
The order followed the shooting of MP Ibrahim Abiriga as well as the unsolved murders of other prominent individuals in recent years, among them government prosecutor Joan Kagezi and police spokesman Andrew Felix Kaweesi.