Review role of army in keeping law, order

What you need to know:

The issue: Role of army. 

Our view:  It is good that the President has personally taken interest in Ssenyange’s killing. It is our hope that the commander-in-chief gets to the bottom of this matter so that Ssenyange’s killers are held to account, but also so that the role of the army in keeping law and order is reviewed.

This week, the sports fraternity in Uganda paid tribute to former national boxing champion Isaac Ssenyange, alias Zebra Mando.

Zebra was gunned down at around 1am on Wednesday, December 30, 2020, in Bwaise, a Kampala suburb. Hours later police issued a statement saying the boxer, who was picked up from his home by unknown assailants, was later shot about 400 meters away from his home and he died instantly.

This contradicted a statement made on Zebra’s Facebook page, which claimed he was chased from his house in Bwaise by military operatives and shot dead in a corridor in his neighborhood.

Eye witnesses say the assailants, who were dressed in black attires and veiled with masks, had trailed him during the day.

However, in his end of year address President Museveni threw more light on the killing. He said Zebra was killed by security personnel he deployed to hunt for people allegedly being used by Opposition politicians to cause havoc in Kampala and other surrounding areas.

The President says because of the weakness of the police, he deployed highly trained soldiers who have been fighting the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels at the DR Congo border and al-Shabaab terrorists in Somalia to fight criminals in the city.

But the manner in which Zebra was killed clearly shows that the use of battle-hardened soldiers to fight crime on the streets could prove counterproductive.

According eyewitness reports, despite him surrendering to his killers, kneeling on the ground and raising his hands up and pleading, Zebra was shot in cold blood.

This brings back to the fore the debate on the deployment of the army to keep law and order. The interpretation of Article 209 of the 1995 Constitution, which spells out the army’s mandate, has been stretched beyond their primary duty of defending and protecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Uganda.

Whereas Section 212 of the Constitution empowers police to work with other security organs to preserve law and order, many fear that the powers of the police have been usurped by the army. And it is little wonder that police seemed unaware of the army’s operation to arrest Zebra.

It is good that the President has personally taken interest in Ssenyange’s killing. It is our hope that the commander-in-chief gets to the bottom of this matter so that Ssenyange’s killers are held to account, but also so that the role of the army in keeping law and order is reviewed.

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