East Africa

Government promises stricter gun control

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Days after yet another fatal shooting of civilians by a soldier, the Minister for Defence last evening promised stricter gun control to minimise the misuse of the weapons. “We are taking all the necessary steps to ensure strict gun control. In this respect, security agencies have been called upon to review discipline and control measures. We are considering instituting tight control on firearms,” Dr Crispus Kiyonga said yesterday.

Responding to MPs’ concerns about the death of 10 people in Bombo Town Council one week ago and shootings at other military installations, Dr Kiyonga said the events were “highly regrettable”. He blamed the deaths on Pte. Patrick Okot Odoch, who had earlier allegedly attempted to rape the daughter of another soldier, Sgt. Onesmus Adule. Sgt. Adule, who was later shot dead, reported the incident to police, which reportedly angered Odoch.

MPs had a day earlier asked the government to reassure Ugandans about their safety in the wake of the shootings in Bombo as well as a gun fight between soldiers at the Army General Headquarters in Mbuya on March 4. By press time some lawmakers were pushing for a commission of inquiry into the circumstances under which the 10 people were killed.

Dr Kiyonga blamed the Mbuya attack on Lt. Augustine Moro, who he said had deserted the army some time back. He alleged that Moro “peddled a story that there was a rebel group planning to stage attacks on Kampala with the intention to take over the government”. “He, therefore, requested for money from some officers so that he can lead to the arrest of the people involved in this plan. In order to cover his lie, he organised some people to attack Mbuya,” the minister said.

Dr Kiyonga said the fact that the suspect could organise people to launch the attack, showed that there were “daring people in the population who can be duped into taking very risky and criminal actions”. However, Fort Portal Municipality MP Alex Ruhunda, said: “The minister must be aware that that is how you [NRA] started, and that is the example that was set a long time ago. If we do not handle our youth well, they will become a problem.”

Terego MP Kassiano Wadri added that the timing of the attacks is suspect. “It is not long since the Minister for Defence talked about a coup. Even the Chief of Defence Forces talked about a coup. Later on the Commander-in-Chief talked about a coup if Parliament did not tow their line. We need assurance that this is not an opportunity for them to actualise their wild dreams,” Mr Wadri said.


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