23 June 2014

Uganda: Army Officer in Charge of Presidential Guards Defects

Kampala — The commander of Uganda's elite military force in charge of protecting President Yoweri Museveni, has rebelled against the government allegedly to join a new rebellion seeking to topple the latter.

Lieutenant Alfred Ntare RO reportedly fled with 16 other officers who deserted their posts last week and moved to unknown locations in Uganda.

Uganda's shadow minister of defence and security, Hassan Kaps Funngaroo, also confirmed to Press TV the defection of the presidential guard's elite commander, but downplayed the impact of the move.

Funngaroo, however, acknowledged serious issues haunting the Ugandan forces, saying the undocumented countless deaths of Ugandan troops serving on the front lines in South Sudan and other places has triggered growing discontent within the military.

A number of Ugandan MPs have recently called for withdrawal of the Ugandan People's Defence Forces (UPDF) from South Sudan, saying "countless" and unknown number of soldiers are unaccounted for and were believed to have been killed in the war against the rebels battling president Salva Kiir's government for the last six months.

Uganda has deployed thousands of troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships to help protect Juba's leadership from possible takeover by the rebels led by the former vice president, Riek Machar.

The Ugandan shadow security minister said that low pay in salaries and poor systems of promotion have also resulted in to the growing indiscipline among the UPDF forces inside the country.

Funngaroo, however, said a military police force was being deployed to hunt down the defected officers in the country.

There are fears that the presidential unit commander may have joined the emerging rebel group, the Freedom and Unity Front, which is said to have established a base in the west of the country, demanding a change in government and a balanced distribution of resources to all regions of the country.

Meanwhile, the Ugandan embassy in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, has warned its citizens in South Sudan not to travel along the Juba-Yei and Juba-Yambio roads, saying its intelligence sources had indicated imminent security threats in these areas.

Sources, however, said the new development was not directly connected to the defection of the senior Ugandan army officer.

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