UPDF recalls LDUs for fresh training

Local Defence Unit personnel arrest a man during demonstration over food relief at Kasubi, a Kampala suburb, on June 16. PHOTO/MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI

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Brig Richard Karemire, the army spokesperson, said the Local Defence Unit (LDUs) have done a commendable job in fighting crime despite the “mistakes committed by a few”.

“The LDUs will continue to execute their duties as per deployment plan of the deploying authority. And over all, they have done a good job in curbing crime,” he said.

Local Defence Unit personnel have been withdrawn countrywide to undergo refresher training in human rights and law enforcement procedures, Daily Monitor has learnt. They are to be trained by police.

The move comes a few days after President Museveni questioned their human rights record.

The withdrawal of LDUs, who have been very active in enforcement of the lockdown rules, became noticeable on Monday during the crackdown on traders who had attempted to reopen arcades in the capital Kampala.

LDUs have been criticised for civilian killings and torture while on duty.

Maj Bilal Katamba, the spokesman of the army’s 1st Division, confirmed the withdrawal of LDUs from checkpoints but insisted that it is due to the easing of the lockdown and not their bad human rights record.

He said the LDUs will continue with their fight against crime.

“The lockdown has been eased and there was no purpose of the LDUs being at the road checks,” Maj Katamba said yesterday.

On Tuesday night, President Museveni said he would address the nation on the indiscipline of LDUs.

There are more than 25,000 LDUs in the country. Most of them were recruited two years ago following the increased spate of crime in various parts of the country.

On several occasions the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) has had to apologise for the behaviour of the LDUs and in some instances prosecuted errant personnel, especially those captured on camera committing crimes.

Asked about why the LDUs did not participate in the enforcement of the re-closure of arcades, he said it is because they were not called upon by the police. “Our task is a supportive role. We support the police when called upon,” he said.

Mr Patrick Onyango, the police spokesman for Kampala Metropolitan region, declined to comment on why they did not invite the LDUs to support them, but said the army spokesman,  Brig Richard Karemire was the right person to comment.

In a recent address to the nation, President Museveni shared telephone contacts of Lt Col Edith Nakalema, the head of State House Anti-Corruption Unit, where the members of the public harassed by LDUs should call for help.

President Museveni said the errant LDUs are tarnishing the image of his government in the eyes of the local population and international community.  

More than 20 people have been killed by LDUs since January with majority deaths happening during the lockdown, which started in March.