Uganda: UPDF to withdraw from Makerere gradually

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KAMPALA, Uganda

Army withdrawal from Makerere will be gradual, says defence minister

The Minister of Defence and Veterans Affairs, Mr. Adolf Mwesige has said that the withdrawal of the army from Makerere University will be gradual.

On Wednesday, officials from the Ministry led by Mr. Mwesige, the Minister of Internal Affairs Mario Obiga Kaniaa and Lt Gen. Wilson Mbadi the Deputy Army Commander, were appearing before the Parliamentary committee on education to answer queries of brutality against students by the army.

The army was accused of brutalizing students who were demonstrating against the 15 percent fee increment.

The army brutality attracted local and international criticism which forced President Museveni to order the withdrawal of the soldiers from the university.

Days later, Capt Ronald Lubeera, the officer who commanded a military raid at Makerere University during a student protest against a 15 percent fee increment was arrested.

On many occasions, according to students, teargas canisters were tossed into halls of residence affecting students who were not participating in the demonstration. 

Mr. Mwesige told the committee that was chaired by Mr John Twesigye that the army that responded to the Makerere University crisis was deployed has been at the university since 2018 in the wake of murders, robberies in the country.

He said that although they are withdrawing from Makerere University, the withdrawal will be gradual since they do not want to leave Makerere “unattended to.”

Lt.Gen Mbadi said that soldiers who brutalized the students are being investigated because the army does not tolerate any form of brutality.

Ms. Winfred Kiiza, the Kasese Woman MP questioned why UPDF appears to have deployed without the knowledge of the university authorities.

The officials were also questioned over reports that several people carry guns in and outside lecture rooms at the University. 

Mr. Julius Achon, the Otuke County MP said that there are many guns at the university and several spies in lecture rooms.

However, Mr. Mwesige told the committee that it is not a crime for spies to be at the Makerere as long as they are doing their job.

He also told the committee that it is not permitted for someone to go to lecture rooms with guns and if there is such a case, they will follow it up.

On Monday, while appearing before the committee, the university’s Guild President Mr Julius Katerega told the committee that students are intimidated by armed plain-clothed security personnel in and outside the university.

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