Ugandan Army Rocked By Massive Desertions

October 15, 2013 5:53 pm0 comments by:

Kampala-The Ugandan army is grappling with the high rate of desertions among its rank and file.

Several soldiers have over the recent years deserted the Uganda People’s Defense Forces-UPDF and as a result have been declared in military terms as Away without Official Leave-AWOL.

Worst affected are the lower ranks where several soldiers are reported to have disappeared from their units and their whereabouts is unknown.

So serious is the problem that the army authorities had to resort to run adverts in the newspapers indicating the names of the soldiers who have disappeared from their units.

Poor pay cited

A soldier serving in the Uganda People’s Defense Forces as a private earns a monthly salary of approximately US$100 and is not entitled to allowances.

The low salary is being blamed as one of the reasons that are behind the massive desertion that has been recorded in the history of the UPDF.

34-year-old Nelson Walija is one of the soldiers who have deserted the Uganda People’s Defense Forces in the recent past.

Walija formerly served in the Regular Signal Regiment-RSR of the third division at its headquarters in Mbale but deserted the force on 9th March 2008.

He went AWOL till recently when he resurfaced at the third division barracks in Bugema following the adverts that the army had put in the media on the missing soldiers.

He was however arrested upon arrival and arraigned before the division court martial to answer to charges of desertion.

Part of the charge sheet seen by the Continent Observer reads “You Nelson Walija on 9th of March 2008 while serving at third division signal regiment requested for a pass of 14 days to go and visit your family in Ntungamo but failed to return to your units after the expiry of your pass”.

The charge sheet states that the suspect did not bother to renew the pass slip and as a result was declared as Away Without Official Leave-AWOL.

He was subsequently charged with breaking section 46 of the UPDF act of 2005. The act spells life imprisonment for anyone convicted of committing a tactical offense of deserting the army.

For Walija he pleaded with the court martial that he failed to return back to his unit because he was taking care of his six children following the death of his wife.

The court martial chaired by Col. John Kumweko resolved to dismiss Private Nelson Walija from the army with disgrace for going away without official leave.

Walija is just one of the many soldiers who are detained in military facilities around the country for deserting the force.  Several others are in hiding following a campaign that the army is carrying out to round them up for desertion.








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