Uganda stays alert on eve of AU summit

12:14, July 25, 2010      

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The Ugandan police and army stayed on high alert on Saturday night, the eve of the 15th African Union Summit which is expected to draw a total of 40 African heads of states and governments.

Spokesman for the Ugandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Summit Organizing Secretariat Patrick Guma told Xinhua that the country's security forces had been staging patrols around the clock in the vicinity of important facilities and venues for the summit.

"We have beefed up the securities since the bombing attacks," Guma said. "Kampala will stay awake and alert."

Policemen and soldiers armed with batons and rifles could be seen patrolling at Entebbe International Airport, downtown Kampala and the Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort where the summit is to be held.

Checkpoints have been installed in front of Serena Hotel and Hotel Africana with security staff examining every single corner of the incoming vehicles.

Roads leading to the summit conference center have been under close surveillance by the heavily armed police and army. Attendants and journalists have to go through at least five checks before they arrive at the center.

Vehicles heading for and leaving from the center have to pull over from time to time and make way for the presidential motorcades, some of which are escorted by a hovering helicopter.

"We are on full alert. We are screening all persons entering into the country," the Ugandan police spokesperson Nabakooba told Xinhua. "Everybody must be vigilant and conscious about their surrounding at all times, especially to identify strange and suspicious people, abandoned items or packages," she added.

Countries including the United States and Britain have issued warnings for their tourists heading for Uganda during the summit of possible attacks.

Despite the tense security, an array of good news has been coming. So far, no delegation or head of state and government has withdrawn their attendance to the summit out of security concerns.

The buoyant Ugandan tourism seems immune from the negative impact of the deadly twin bomb attacks. Almost every qualified hotel rooms between the airport and the conference center have been booked up.

Shamim Matovu who works with Africa One Tours and Travel at Kampala said the summit had saved the Ugandan tourism.

"It could have been much flagging due to the blasts," she said.

It is still widely believed that the three-day summit, under the theme of "Maternal, infant and child health and development", will be overshadowed by the discussion of regional stability and AU's role in the peacekeeping mission in the war-torn Somalia.

Source: Xinhua


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