Bukomansimbi. Poor training of soldiers and police is responsible for the recruitment of the controversial crime preventers and other vigilante groups that have become a huge public concern across the country, presidential candidate, Maj Gen (Rtd) Benon Biraaro, has said.
According to Maj Gen Biraaro, such vigilante groups are unnecessary both to the State and the general public. He blamed the State for failing to ensure a well-trained army that would reinforce the police during elections.
“If you have a well-trained army, in times of elections like this, it supports the police, because unlike the army, those vigilantes who do not have command and control on a daily basis can be a great danger even to the government that has recruited them,” Maj Gen Biraaro said on Wednesday.
The Farmers Party of Uganda presidential candidate made the remarks during his campaign in the districts of greater Masaka area where he spent four days from Sunday.
He was responding to the electorate in Bukomansimbi District who asked him his position on the recruitment of crime preventers. Maj Gen Biraaro also said since the count of poorly trained crime preventers exceeds the number of soldiers, they can easily turn into an unruly force and eventually cause havoc in the country.
Police have trained thousands of crime preventers in military and self-defence skills, among others.
However, they have been widely criticised by the public as a militia group to be used as a tool of the ruling NRM party to harass the Opposition and the general population, claims the NRM and police have refuted.
Gen Biraaro urged the Electoral Commission to demand enough capacity building of the troops such that they ably assist in the electoral process instead of relying on crime preventers.
The presidential candidate said because the crime preventers are highly politicised, it has given chance to other politicians to also build their own militia groups to counter the former, something that could compromise the country’s security.
Although Maj Gen Biraaro expressed fear of vote rigging and ballot stuffing, he said his remedy will not be recruiting such groups, saying his approach is to mobilise the electorate to use civilian and peaceful approaches of safeguarding their votes.
He requested voters to turn up with their phones and use the cameras to record the footage which they will eventually present to court as evidence for vote rigging.
“Do not vote as if you will not have time to monitor the entire processes, you have to come at the right time and be eager to see who is stuffing and the methods employed such that we can compile our evidence against the thieves,” he told voters.
Meanwhile, police announced plans to recruit some 650,000 people who will serve as special police constables during elections, but Maj Gen Biraaro says also these will have not got sufficient training to handle elections.