The Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, yesterday broke his silence and indicated that the Force is investigating what he called “criminal behaviour connected with on-going political controversies within the NRM party”.
In his first communication about the conduct of police in the raging dispute in the ruling party, Gen Kayihura insisted that the Force holds “no interest in which political leader any member of the public supports or does not support”.
He, however, disclosed that a police probe is underway to unravel NRM-linked individuals who have been traversing the country in a bid to secure signatures “using methods that amount to criminality”.
“While any person, is free to solicit and receive signatures for lawful purpose, those signing must do so freely without undue or unlawful compulsion or any unlawful influence through false representations, and, without money exchanging hands, unlawfully such as bribery,” Gen Kayihura said in the press release.
The NRM has been locked in a stand-off since MPs met at a retreat in Kyankwanzi last month and endorsed President Museveni as the party’s sole presidential flag bearer in the 2016 polls. The approval was, however, rejected by some members of the party’s youth league who instead launched a drive to solicit for signatures to hold a delegates’ conference that would elect the party’s flag bearer. They also nominated Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi as their preferred choice for flag bearer.
Some of these youths have since been arrested by police. But “the police are not targeting or harassing any such individuals, or anybody for that matter, let alone, because of their political opinions as claimed in media stories,” the police chief said.
“Police received reports of a group of people moving around collecting signatures from people in Kampala, falsely claiming that the intention was to take them to the President so that the longstanding promises the President [made] are, at last, fulfilled,” Gen Kayihura said in his statement.
On concerns raised by Premier Amama Mbabazi that the Force is arresting “people on account of the opinions they hold”, Gen Kayihura responded that police will not be “intimidated” in efforts to seize offenders, regardless of their political “opinions” -- alluding to the recent arrests of NRM youths believed to be the PM’s supporters.
He added: “Others were paid money (actually bribed) ranging from Shs50,000 to Shs500,000 depending on their respective status in the NRM party “warning of” reports that money being unlawfully paid (bribery) out by different teams going around the country”.
In a separate statement last week, Ms Jacqueline Mbabazi, the PM’s wife labelled the police chief ‘Afande Teargas’ and accused the Kampala Metropolitan Police commander Andrew Felix Kaweesi of making “partisan statements”.
Ms Mbabazi, a senior NRM official who chairs the party’s women league, was particularly furious by a pronouncement Mr Kaweesi made, vowing that the police would arrest NRM youth members found soliciting for signatures to hold a delegates’ conference without the party’s blessing.