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News | February 22, 2006

American citizen arrested over illegal guns

police in Kampala are holding an American national who was allegedly found with four illegal guns and 184 rounds of live ammunition. Police Spokesman Assuman Mugenyi told journalists at a press conference at Kibuli Police headquarters yesterday that Dr Peter E. Waldron was arrested at about 8pm on Monday.

Waldron, 59, works as an Information Technology consultant for the Ministry of Health and has been living in Uganda since 2002. He was arrested at his home in Kisugu near International Hospital after a tip off.

Documents found on him indicate that Waldron is also an advisor to the President of Rocky Mountain Technology Group, Contact America Group Inc and Founder of City of Faith Ministries in Kampala.

Mugenyi told journalists that a good citizen saw three people carrying two bags from Waldron's house and they dropped them. When he inquired why they had dropped the bags, one of them drew a gun at him. The man made an alarm, which attracted the neighbourhood.

The suspects reportedly attempted to run but the boda-boda riders pursued them until they were arrested. "On searching the bags they were in possession of two SMG rifles and 90 rounds of live ammunition," Mugenyi said.

They pleaded with the mob not to lynch them saying they would show them where more guns were hidden. "The suspects led the police to Waldron's house in Kisugu and on conducting a search, two more SMG rifles were recovered with 94 rounds of ammunition in a wardrobe in his bedroom and copies of The Africa Dispatch newsletter," he said. One of the men who were arrested was a Congolese national.

Mugenyi said investigations were still going on and Waldron's girlfriend and his house girl were also being questioned. This brings the number of people arrested to five in the case. Mugenyi could not divulge their names pending the completion of investigations.

He said Waldron, also a freelance journalist, is the publisher of the newsletter. He said Waldron was among the diplomats at the High Court during the trial of Dr Kizza Besigye.

"This confirms our suspicion of the terrorists at the High Court and the subsequent deployment of the Joint Anti Terrorism Squad," Mugenyi said. Some of the pictures in the magazine show Waldron with diplomats in the High Court during the trial of Besigye. "You remember even at the Court Martial at Makindye, this gentleman was always moving with the diplomats," he said.
"We always thought he was a diplomat because he was so close to the ambassadors but we have just established that he is not."

Asked what charges Waldron is likely to face, Mugenyi said, "Definitely even before we investigate, there is the (offence) of illegal possession of firearms. I do not know what the Director of Public Prosecutions might advise.""If he says it is terrorism, I do not know but right now, the offence of illegal possession of firearms is very clear."

He cannot justify how he got those rifles because we do not license SMG rifles."

Friend to First Family
Mugenyi could not say what Waldron's Contact America Group is involved in or whether it is registered in Uganda. "We suspect that it could be either an NGO or a lobby group," he said. Despite Mugenyi's attempt to link Waldron to Besigye, Waldron says he has close relations with State House.

In an article titled Evangelicals v. Muslims in Africa: Enemy's Enemy and published in the US news magazine The New Republic in August 2004, Waldron says he had met President Yoweri Museveni. The American doctor also says he is a friend of the first family and a friend of Pastor Martin Sempa, according to the article, written by one Stuart Price.

The story in The New Republic says Waldron, who comes from Wyoming, told the congregation that he had once been a military man and that he used to travel around Africa a lot in the 1960s.

"He was vague about the nature of his work. ("I'm not at liberty to say," he later told me.) But he claimed that, on one occasion, it resulted in some good people getting executed by a firing squad. After that, he contemplated suicide, he told the audience. Then he found Jesus," the article reads.

The writer says after he met Waldron at a Kampala hotel several days later, the American doctor-cum-pastor told him more of his story. "At different times in his career, he said, he'd been a syndicated talk-radio host, a lobbyist, and a Republican political consultant. More recently, he had run sports programmes for underprivileged youths in Tampa, Florida. Now, he was in Uganda, trying to sell computer software to government ministries while preaching on the weekends," the article reads, adding:

"They embrace Americans here," he said enthusiastically. Indeed, as we sat together, a steady stream of young admirers who had seen Waldron in church came up to greet him. They made complicated handshakes, the way Ugandans do, and Waldron boasted to me that he had met privately with President Museveni and his born-again wife.”

“It struck me that, for many Americans of faith, Uganda - a country where homosexuality and abortion are outlawed, where politicians freely mix church and state, and where outward displays of religious devotion are the norm - represents a kind of haven." Waldron is said to have talked to several high-ranking government officials on arrest including some powerful ministers.

Efforts to talk to the ministers including Pastor Sempa , however, proved futile by press time. At one point Waldron was introduced as a friend of the first family at a high-profile function at Kampala Casino.

He is also said to have played a key role in setting up a meeting between the President and US billionaire Bill Gates of Microsoft on one of Museveni's visits to the United States.
It was not possible to check out some of these details by press time.

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© 2006 The Monitor Publications Ltd.