Independent Presidential Candidate Mr Amama Mbabazi has said crime preventers are a political militia being by government to disrupt the coming general elections.
Addressing a press conference at Larem Guest House in Gulu on Tuesday, Mr Mbabazi noted that crime preventers are not a part of the Uganda police force adding that, plans to arm them makes them political militia meant to create an atmosphere conducive for violence.
This was in reference to media reports that the Inspector General of Police, while addressing crime preventers in Kapchorwa, early this year, allegedly promised to arm the otherwise stick wielding outfit.
“Why would one with a fully established police force, with the army and all the pillars of state in place create a militia, give them fire arms to do what?
“I think Gen Kayihura obviously needs to answer that and whoever gives him orders better checks it out because someone will be answerable,” Mr Mbabazi said.
Crime preventers have been contentious since their formation a couple of years ago with the opposition seeing the outfit with doubt.
While appearing before Parliament last year, Prime Minister Ruhaka Rugunda said Crime preventers are simply volunteers meant to guard and prevent crime and should not be involved in partisan politics.
“They are not supposed to be playing partisan roles. If there are any errors committed, we shall follow them up and ensure that they are stopped,” he said.
Responding to a similar accusation from Facebook Page called Team JPAM, the Uganda Police, through its Facebook page explained that the concept or community policing (crime preventers) has always been there and contemplated for implementation, as way back as 1990.
“It is a metamorphose of the ‘Nyumba Kumi’. Those who are old enough will remember that Nyumba Kumi works on the premise that each community must be able to be self-reliant on security matters.
The current IGP Gen Kayihura has refined that Nyumba Kumi concept to what we are seeing as Community Policing, the difference is that as society develops so does crime, while in the late 80’s and 90’s we had magendo (smuggling), waragi trade, and occasional highway robbers, today we have various forms of serious crime that may require physical confrontation with the perpetrators,” the post read in part.
Mr Mbabazi however holds that the current crime preventers are different from the original neighbourhood policing that the National Resistance movement created thirty years ago when it took power.
“It (neighbourhood policing) was used for community policing to prevent crime because they had not fully restored the pillars of state,” he said adding that its not surprising that the NRM Secretary General Kasule Lumbumba warned that those who will protest the result of the vote will be shot dead.
“You can see the connection of what Ms Lumumba said on shooting Ugandans dead and Gen Kayihura on arming the crime preventers, this is a dangerous and serious plan.
These similar sentiments caused bloodshed in Rwanda and now Burundi and we surely don’t want to see it here in Uganda,” Mr Mbabazi said.
Uganda goes to the polls on February 18 and as the day closes in, there is anxiety and uncertainty about what will when the results are announced.
Meanwhile, two Kenyan politicians have followed the footsteps of Kenya's Deputy President, William Ruto to campaign for NRM Presidential Flag bearer, Museveni in Sebei Region.
Samuel ole Tunai, Narok County Governor and Robert Bukose, Endebes County Member of Parliament accompanied by Faruk Kibet, Mr Rutos’ Personal Assistant urged their Kalenjin brothers of Eastern Uganda to vote for NRM in the February General Election.