President Museveni is on the receiving end of vitriolic criticism from the opposition and human rights world over his nomination of Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura for a three year term in what critics now say is an affirmation of his personal rule project and tougher times ahead for activists opposed to the three decade long regime.
Opposition legislators have now vowed to give Gen. Kayihura a ‘bloody nose’ when he enters appearance for vetting before parliament’s appointments committee at a yet to be communicated date while activists such as Kampala Lord Mayor painted a grim picture of increased suppression of dissenting voices ahead of the expiry of Mr Museveni’s term in 2021 as the constitution bars him from seeking re-election.
Leader of Opposition and Kasese Woman MP, Ms Winnie Kiiza said, “This is a sad development for Uganda in light of killings coordinated by police officers and outright criminality right under Kayihura’s watch unless of course Museveni is telling us he is part of this insanity and has run out of officers to appoint. The appointment is an insult to Ugandans who have watched as Kayihura runs a force that superintends over human rights violations, criminal gangs and rogues but Museveni seems to be telling us he is part of this and supports it. We shall oppose it.”
Forum for Democratic Change spokesman and Kira municipality MP, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda said the party was set to rally its members in parliament to put up resistance despite National Resistance Movement’s numerical strength if for anything, “to make a point that Gen Kayihura’s reappointment is a nod of personal rule and not for a better Uganda Police Force.”
This, after Daily Monitor reported about Gen Kayihura’s nomination to Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga for reappointment as IGP in a March 14 letter that also gave his deputy Mr Okoth Ochola, Commissioner General of Prisons Dr Johnson Byabashaija and his deputy Mr James Mwanje another term. The quartet await vetting from parliament. Gen Kayihura has served as IGP since 2005 when he succeeded works minister Gen Katumba Wamala.
Mr Ssemujju Nganda faulted Gen Kayihura for acting as and reducing the over 100 year old institution to a walking stick of Mr Museveni’s personal retention and life presidency project by suppressing opposition.
“Of course we don’t have the numbers but we shall oppose it at least to make the point that police must do law and order maintenance and not help Museveni entrench personal rule because Museveni measures Kayihura’s performance on his suppression of the opposition and not reducing crime,” he said.
Kayihura’s critics have argued that whereas the police budget has grown exponentially to over half a trillion shillings, human resource to over 44,600 from a paltry 14,000 and equipment to near military capacity, “that has not translated into reduction in crime but increase in policing the opposition.”
Gen Kayihura’s reign has also received endless calls for independent investigations into police’s use of lethal force when handling demonstrations with Human Rights Watch faulting the force for killing unarmed demonstrators during the 2009 ‘Kayunga riots’ and 2011 Walk to Work demonstrations as the IGP jealously protected Mr Museveni’s entrenchment in power. He has also been on a collision course with sister agencies including the Internal Security Organisation and Chieftancy of Military Intelligence who take exception of the IGP’s ‘roguish methods’ including forced confessions from tortured suspects in the notorious Nalufenya detention facility. Ahead of the 2016 general election, Gen Kayihura was caught off guard when tapes of him manipulating suspects to pin former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and Archbishop Christopher Lwanga in anti-Museveni activities leaked to the public. Mr Mbabazi’s wife, Jacqueline, then the NRM Women’s League chairperson ridiculed the IGP and termed him, ‘afande teargas.’
Former information minister and director general of the Internal Security Organisation, Maj Gen Jim Muhwezi however defended Kayihura’s record, advancing the argument that he is harshly judged by detractors.
Gen Muhwezi said in an interview, “He deserved the appointment and the appointing authority appreciates his work. You cannot blame one man for the insecurity in the country because it is a duty of us all. You can assess him based on if those behind criminality are being brought to book and he is doing that.”
MP Medard Segona said, “It is a total disaster. I shall call Kayihura and pray for him so that he becomes a better human being. He has become the problem of the Uganda Police Force.”
Attention will now shift to speaker Kadaga’s committee and how it treats long raging bitterness over the embattled IGP’s reign that has received condemnation from parliament itself such as when, at Mulago round about, a pistol wielding police officer, one Arinaitwe Bwana, unleashed tear gas on Dr Kizza Besigye, leaving him for near dead until he was dashed out of the country for treatment in Kenya only to return as Mr Museveni swore in, causing more anarchy as police shot at his supporters. Kadaga’s committee was on the spot recently when the no nonsense speaker called an order by Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma, ‘a stupid court order’ barring parliament from inquiring into the shs6 billion handshake. Uganda Law Society took a swipe at Kadaga for ignoring views that challenged Kavuma’s appointment in the first place and shrewdly insulating the scandal ridden judge from scrutiny. Will Kadaga’s committee wave off criticism against Kayihura who still has a criminal case hovering over his head following torture of Besigye’s supporters by police officers that led to Makindye court summons and, as it did with Mr Kavuma get him through the furnace?