President Yoweri Museveni, in a recent national address, emphasized the importance of ensuring security by implementing identification checks at recreational and religious sites. He explained that by examining the identities of individuals, potential security risks could be identified, preventing potential terrorist activities.
President Museveni has directed that individuals visiting recreational areas and places of worship in Uganda must present their national identity cards. This measure is intended to reduce the risk of suspected terrorists infiltrating public spaces, particularly to thwart the activities of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels and other extremist groups.
In his address, President Museveni urged vigilance within communities, saying that unfamiliar individuals should be questioned, isolated, and reported to the police. He also emphasized the importance of verifying national identity cards for guests at hotels and real estate properties. Additionally, he stressed the need for thorough searches of people entering markets and buses.
The President’s directive follows recent arrests by security forces, who apprehended seven individuals suspected of terrorism. The police discovered six explosive devices in their possession, which they intended to use for attacks. Security forces have attributed these foiled attacks to the ADF rebel group, which has been active in Uganda since the mid-1990s.
Enforcing ID checks at places of worship may present challenges, particularly in urban areas where congregants often do not know one another. President Museveni acknowledged that some churches and mosques have open-door policies, making it difficult to implement stringent identification requirements. He instructed the police to provide training to hotel and lodge managers on documenting guests’ identification.
President Museveni also provided an update on Operation Shujaa in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where Ugandan forces have been involved since 2021. He reported the elimination of 567 rebels, the capture of 50, and the recovery of 157 guns. Additionally, 207 abducted individuals were successfully rescued. Uganda and the DRC have strengthened their military collaboration to combat the ADF rebels.
The President mentioned that the DRC government had agreed to his proposal to train and deploy local defense forces to protect villages in areas inaccessible to the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF). Initially, President Museveni had suggested training Local Defense Units (LDUs) in the DRC, but the idea was declined due to concerns of potential threats to the Congolese government.
Regarding amnesty for ADF rebels, President Museveni ruled out immediate forgiveness for hardcore members involved in heinous acts. He emphasized accountability for their actions, suggesting they may face prison sentences rather than immediate execution. However, he did not rule out the possibility of amnesty or reduced punishment in the future.
President Museveni urged the public not to panic in the face of terror threats, assuring them that the ADF’s influence was on the decline. He emphasized that these threats represented the “tail end” of the ADF’s activities and not a resurgence or expansion of their operations.