KAMPALA. Inspector General of Police Gen Kale Kayihura has, for the first time since his disappearance from the public a fortnight ago, spoken out and said unending questions about his health show that Ugandans care about him.
“I am touched that people are really concerned about my life when they don’t see me around, but I am fine,” he told this newspaper by telephone from the Turkish capital, Ankara, last Saturday.
Speculation about Gen Kayihura’s health began swirling after he, contrary to his practice, missed attending two key national events, the President’s June 6 State-of-the-Nation address and the subsequent reading of the national budget.
Gen Kayihura’s last public appearance was during a security meeting chaired by President Museveni at State House Entebbe on May 31.
Speculation about his health gained traction on social media and some online publications after a local daily reported that he was bedridden in India.
On June 12, the Uganda Police Force issued a statement titled “alleged sickness of IGP” refuting the speculation and said Gen Kayihura was in “very good health” and the country should not be alarmed.
“These are complete false stories invented by people with fertile imaginations. There is no iota of truth in these stories,” reads the statement by Police spokesman Asan Kasingye.
He promised that the police chief would have returned to the country by last week.
However, Gen Kayihura did not return as indicated, fuelling further speculation about the state of his health.
Last Saturday, the police released a collection of different photos, one showing Gen Kayihura at a meal table at the Sheraton Hotel in Ankara, in which the four-star general appeared alongside Uganda’s deputy ambassador to Turkey Moses Kasujja and the Dean of the Department of Forensic Medicine at Cukurova University, Prof Mete Korkut Gülmen.
The police chief wore a Chinese tunic suit, popularly called Mao suit, and looked frail.
When Daily Monitor asked him last Saturday whether he had been indisposed as reported, Gen Kayihura said he would provide details upon his return today.
“Now, you are going into an interview; I am on business here (in Turkey), but [I] will grant interviews when I am back,” Gen Kayihura said in a tone that did not invite further questions.
Uganda Police and Turkish Police have signed a number of memoranda of understanding on several projects, including construction of a health facility and training of special force units and, as such, Gen Kayihura and other senior police officers have been making regular trips to Turkey over the past two years.
A new set of photos of the IGP, this time dressed in a black suit, white shirt and grey tie, emerged last evening depicting him at an airport and, according to sources close to him, waiting to catch a flight back home.
A highly-placed government source intimated to Daily Monitor that Gen Kayihura had been hospitalised, but declined to divulge the details due to sensitivity of the matter. However, his claim could not be independently verified.
Speculations about the General’s health are not new. In August 2011 when he visited Germany to correct his eye-sight, claims emerged that he had collapsed in office and had been rushed for treatment abroad.
Gen Kayihura had to send photographs of him and German officials to allay speculation that his health was failing.
Gen Kayihura regularly features in the Ugandan media, including some dramatic instances when he is captured on video reprimanding his subordinates during spot-checks.
Office schedule scaled down
However, a lot has lately changed in his work practice and energy since assuming police leadership in 2005.
Known to peers as a workaholic, Gen Kayihura, who used to work from 10am at times up to as late as 3am the next day, has scaled down his office schedule and, on some days, works for only four hours.
The cause of this change in his work practice could not be readily established.
Prior to his latest disappearance from the public sight, one police officer told Daily Monitor that Gen Kayihura, during his last appearance at police headquarters in Naguru in Kampala, had a cannula on his hand, indicating he was on medication.
Gen Kale Kayihura has, for the first time since his disappearance from the public a fortnight ago, spoken out and said unending questions about his health show that Ugandans care about him. He says he is ‘touched’ that people are really concerned about his life when they don’t see him around, but maintains that he is fine. He says he has been away in Turkey on official business and will grant media interviews when he is back. When this newspaper asked him last Saturday whether he had been indisposed as reported, Gen Kayihura said he would provide details upon his return today.