President Museveni yesterday said government would no longer tolerate what he called “lawless civilians”.
The President’s ultimatum was delivered last evening, hours after Dr Kizza Besigye, leader of the country’s biggest opposition party, called for a full inquiry into the death of an officer during a police operation which went terribly wrong.
“We are going to crush them all. We have defeated armed gangs since 1986. The remaining problem is lawless civilians. If they were armed, we would have crushed them a long time ago,” Mr Museveni said at Naguru Police Barracks, where he paid his respects to the family of late AIP John Bosco Ariong.
Ariong was killed on Wednesday after sustaining a fatal injury to the head during a police skirmish with civilians on Ben Kiwanuka Street in Kampala.
Without being prompted, Mr Museveni also used his visit to deny reports which have been circulating around town that Ariong did not die the way the police initially said he was killed, but that he had actually been shot.
“Your father was not killed by a bullet,” the President told the children, “he was hit by a blunt object.”
A copy of the postmortem report seen by this newspaper indicated the deceased died after a “brain injury following trauma inflicted from a blunt object”.
According to a government surgeon, Ariong was hit by a blunt object thrown from a location above him.
Mr Museveni also ordered police chief, Lt. Gen. Kale Kayihura, to ensure that police officers assigned to crowd control duties henceforth carry cameras to collect evidence.
“You must have cameras so that there is no argument about who said what and who did what,” Mr Museveni said.
“The law is also weak. Some of these habitual offenders should have their bail cancelled and locked up.”
While Mr Museveni did not say who exactly would be crushed, Internal Affairs Minister Hilary Onek did not mince his words.
“I think government should re-think how to handle these opposition politicians and their sponsors. They are responsible for the chaos that caused the death of this gallant [man],” Mr Onek said.
“What I see here is no different from what [rebel leader Joseph] Kony did in the North. We may have to re-think how to handle these opposition politicians and their sponsors to ensure democracy is upheld,” the Internal Affairs minister said.
Ariong is the first police officer to lose his life during skirmishes between security forces and civilians since the opposition-led Walk-to-Work protests against the rising cost of living and bad governance kicked off more than a year ago.
Ariong joins scores of civilian victims who were either seriously injured or shot dead by the police and other security personnel, including two-year-old baby Julian Nalwanga who, on April 21 last year, was fired upon and killed while inside the family home in Nyendo, Masaka.
Time has come
Mr Museveni said time had come to put an end to the “disruptions” the country has been witnessing for more than a year.
Promising to care for the family of the deceased officer, Mr Museveni called on the police administration to ensure the force builds institutional capacity to support families of dead officers.
“When I die, the NRM and UPDF will care for my wife and children. Mrs Ariong, I am going to finish that house in the village,” the President said, referring to the country home her husband had not completed in Kumi.
Forum for Democratic Change leader Kizza Besigye, who was hauled off Ben Kiwanuka sStreet along with other opposition politicians by police shortly before Ariong met his death, is this morning expected to appear at the Kira Road Police station.
Yesterday he told our sister media house, NTV: “Police should investigate the circumstances under which the police officer was killed and a report be made public.”
Dr Besigye was on Wednesday arrested alongside Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, Kampala Woman MP Nabila Ssempala and Kawempe Mayor Mubarak Munyagwa and charged with allegedly holding an illegal assembly.
Yesterday, he went about his personal businesses unhindered despite earlier reports he would be held under preventive arrest at his Kasangati home.
A public dialogue which had been scheduled by the political pressure group, Activists for Change, as part of events to mark the world day against police brutality did not take off yesterday.