Security has been beefed up in Uganda ahead of Pope Francis’ visit to the country. Uganda police and other security agencies have begun deploying officers countrywide ahead of the Catholic leader’s visit scheduled for November 27-29.
Sources say that a security committee comprising of the Uganda Police, Special Forces Command and intelligence organizations are meeting daily to come up with workable strategies that will ensure maximum security for the pope and other delegates that will travel alongside him.
Among the places that Pope Francis is expected to visit during his visit are the Namugongo Martyrs shrine and Munyonyo.
He is also expected to lead a Mass service during his visit, one which is expected to be attended by millions of people, both Ugandan nationals and foreigners.
During the Martyr’s Day celebrations, police shall deploy over 5,000 officers to offer security. Already, some officers are already in the field conducting surveillance operations in all the areas where the pontiff and other visitors may be interested in.
The Ugandan government will spend more than Shs5b in preparation for the papal visit.
Back in 1969, Pope Paul VI was driven to Namugongo Martyrs Shrine in an open Mercedes Benz car in which he rode alongside president Obote. In 1993, Pope John Paul II was similarly driven to the shrine in an open roof Mercedes Benz alongside President Museveni.
Pope Francis is however known for using modest means of transport and has in the past made surprise visits common places, catching the security off-guard.
Earlier in the year, the pope, through his representatives in Uganda, had set terms for his visit. Among those terms were that he wouldn’t be driven in big 4×4 SUV vehicles but rather would use an ‘ordinary’ car. He also informed the Ugandan government that unlike his predecessors, he would not sit with any other passenger in his car.
The pope also won’t be holding any meetings with political leaders with only the exception of President Yoweri Museveni. He asserted that his purpose for visiting the country will be solely to engage in religious activities.
Also, he informed the government that he will not be staying in a hotel but rather, will alongside his entourage sleep in a common place and take ordinary meals.