UPDF Soldiers Registering for National ID in Gulu
A Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) spokesperson has admitted soldiers who did not to register for the national identity card because they were out of the country are currently being registered at Palaro in Gulu district.
The registration exercise, sources told Acholi Times, is taking place at Palaro where most of the UPDF soldiers who were serving in South Sudan have been deployed.
“Politicians should not politicize the ID registration exercise ongoing at the barracks. The soldiers too have their constitutional rights to acquire the IDs since they were away from the country on official duty,” said Lt Ronald Ovon, a spokesperson for the 4th Division army barracks said.
Lt Ovon did not give specific dates when the exercise began but said that it began last month and is ongoing.
On Wednesday last week, the electoral commission declined to nominate Democratic Party (DP) president Norbert Mao for the Gulu municipality seat on grounds that he had not registered for the national identity card within the stipulated time and is therefore not on the voters register. The EC said because of that Mao can’t vote and can’t stand for elective office to be voted for.
Mao said he had made several unsuccessful attempts in the last four months to register for a national ID.
Reports of an ongoing registration of UPDF soldiers who missed registration for the national identifies card is likely to lead to accusations of unfairness on the part of the EC for treating Ugandans using different standards.
Mao last week said he knew someone who registered as recently as three weeks ago, and also said UPDF soldiers were being registered.
The DP president said he missed registration because he was bed ridden in hospital.
The UPDF soldiers who reportedly being registered in Palaro is part of a group of 3,000 soldiers who were withdrawn from South Sudan in late October.
Speaking in a telephone interview on Monday, the 4th Division UPDF spokesperson, Lt Ronald Ovon said the soldiers are being registered under what he said is a special arrangement by the ministry of internal affairs.
Lt Ovon said the soldiers in Palaro comprises of the 1st, 5th, 9th, 33rd and 41st battalions. Of the different battalions from South Sudan, Lt Ovon said only the 41st and 33rd are not yet registered.
It is possible that the UPDF spokesperson did not know the political implications of his admission to the press.
By yesterday afternoon there were unconfirmed reports that Lt Ovon who is based in Arua had been reprimanded by his bosses in the army’s public relations department and summoned to Gulu, the 4th Division headquarters.
The EC spokesperson said they are not aware of any ongoing registration for the national identity card. EC spokesperson Jotham Taremwa said the “EC has already concluded the update of the voters register’’ and that no new names can be included.
When contacted, Lt Col Ankunda said the UPDF had not yet started the registration process stating that they (UPDF) will begin when they have finalised talks with Ministry of f Internal Affairs which has the registration equipment.
A resident of Palaro who spoke on conditions of anonymity told Acholi times that the national ID registration was ongoing in the barracks adding the process was being shielded from the public.
At a press conference on Tuesday in Kampala, Mao accused the electoral commission of bias and treating him unfairly. Mao’s lawyers have subsequently given the EC 48 hours to respond to a complaint he had lodged with the EC which he says the electoral body had not yet replied by the time of going to press.