President Museveni yesterday broke his silence, blaming intelligence agencies, specifically the Internal Security Organisation for failure to detect and thwart the Saturday afternoon bloody attacks in Kasese and Bundibugyo that have so far left more than 90 people, including eight members of security forces, dead. Most of the dead are said to be suspected attackers belonging to the Bakonzo, the majority ethnic tribe in the area.
Security agencies have blamed the attacks on a long standing tribal conflict they (Bakonzo) have had with the minority Basongora and the tensions precipitated by the May 30 coronation of retired Maj Martin Kamya, the first cultural leader of the Bamba, Babwisi and Vonoma communities in Bundibugyo and the neighbouring DR Congo that form the OBB monarchy – which rattled feathers of proponents of the Rwenzururu King, Charles Wesley Mumbere.
Mr Museveni’s statement yesterday blamed the proponents of the Rwenzururu Kingdom for masterminding the tensions prior to the attacks and questioned how the attackers had evaded intelligence agencies.
“Fortunately, today Uganda has got a capable State that is able to deal decisively and expeditiously with such schemes although, of course, there was a failure of intelligence. How did these people weave such a scheme without being pre-empted? What were the GISOs doing?” President Museveni asked.
The GISO’s – Gombolola Internal Security Officers, are part of the ISO structure, that maintains presence up to the grassroots. ISO maintains presence in all parts of the country up to the parish level, and it is understood the intelligence audit will look into how its structures could have failed to detect this.
Veteran Security Chief David Pulkol, a former head of the external intelligence agencies yesterday agreed with President Museveni on the lapses in intelligence handling – and blamed the police, ISO and Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence.
“What had become of our intelligence agencies? May be everybody is looking at Kyankwanzi resolution, President Museveni’s fifth term and they have forgotten about al-shabaab? This intelligence failure has baffled us. It sends a wrong message. How can this find everybody unprepared?” Mr Pulkol said, He says security and intelligence agencies are carrying out “arrest-led operations,” not “intelligence-led operations”, which accounts for failure to “detect, report and curtail these attacks”.
Mr Pulkol, who is now an opposition politician, blames president Museveni for militarising cultural institutions by retiring and promoting UPDF soldiers before they are installed as kings.
“He promoted and retired the King of Bamba. He promoted and retired the Ssebanyara. He is militarising all these cultural institutions,” he said.
ISO Director General, Brig Ronnie Balya, admitted that some of his staff – the GISOs had been in the areas for a long time and become complacent. According to Brig Balya, the law as it is currently does not provide for the transfer of GISOs. He said ISO should not be blamed alone because security at the sub-county and regional level is the responsibility of the army, police and ISO.
“There are many actors in this. We need to study it scientifically, who didn’t do his work and who did,” Brig Balya said, “ we are going to investigate who reported and who didn’t,” he said by telephone.
“We have to investigate to find out who reported and who didn’t report. We will examine the Rwenzori region at different levels including political, command and intelligence,” the ISI Chief said.
Although, the president said the attackers had been defeated by stopping them from overrunning the UPDF 39 battalion camp, they managed to capture over 20 guns.
Mr Museveni, promised that government would deal with the perpetrators of the attack and described them as a “selfish bunch of people” and warned that the “scheme is doomed to total failure”.