What you need to know:
- The Opposition leader says the former IGP has a duty to reflect on his previous actions and steer clear of actions that might sustain Mr Museveni and the NRM in power.
Opposition leader Col Dr Kizza Besigye has said whereas the circumstances under which the General Court Martial dropped charges against the former Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, remain unclear, there are indications that it was conditional.
Speaking during an interview yesterday afternoon, Dr Besigye said there are indications that certain agreements and concessions were made on the part of both Gen Kayihura and his former jailers, but hastened to add that this should not make him work towards sustaining the National Resistance Movement (NRM) regime in power.
“It is opaque but I suspect that to gain the kind of concessions, he has had to make certain commitments about how he will live outside the military captivity and most likely that he will continue to serve the same masters in whatever form or shape,” Dr Besigye said.
He added: “That is what I am cautioning him [about]. That if he fully regains his rights and his life, he should not seek to continue serving and entrenching the problem that we are fighting with.”
Gen Kayihura, he said, has a duty to reflect on his previous actions and steer clear of actions that might sustain Mr Museveni and the NRM in power.
“I hope that Mr Kayihura in his newly regained freedom will have time to reflect and at the very least not continue to work for the entrenchment of the evil we are dealing with,” Dr Besigye said.
He added: “The good thing is that if he doesn’t heed that kind of advice, the consequences will be waiting for him because the troubles that he has been going through, it was not for lack of advice. It is up to him to heed our advice or the consequences will be waiting for him.”
As leader of the Opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Dr Besigye suffered various brutal arrests at the hands of the police under Gen Kayihura, the worst coming in April 2011 during the Walk to Work demonstrations that were called by the Opposition to protest the high cost of living.
The demonstrations culminated in the violent arrest of Dr Besigye by Mr Gilbert Bwana Arinaitwe, a police officer, who smashed the windscreen of the former’s car with a pistol butt, doused his face with pepper spray before bundling him onto the back of a police pick-up truck. Dr Besigye had to be flown to Nairobi, Kenya for medical care.
Whereas Gen Kayihura did not publicly condemn the police officer for manhandling Dr Besigye, it has since emerged that he had acted on his own.
“Ask Gilbert Bwazna Arinaitwe why he acted that way. He was not under instructions to treat Dr Besigye that way,” the General was recently heard telling a confidant.
Dr Besigye did not apportion blame for the police’s brutal actions against the former IGP, accused him of contributing to the stunting of Uganda’s multiparty democracy.
“Without doubt he did a lot [in slowing down the growth of democracy]. He has been saying so himself, how he did or he could to sustain the regime in power, as I said, including overstepping his call of duty,” Dr Besigye said.
The Opposition leader, however, took exception with the manner in which the charges of failure to protect war materials contrary to the UPDF Act, failure to supervise and ensure accountability for arms and ammunitions issued to specialised units under the office of the IGP, and aiding and abetting kidnapping from Uganda, allowing arms and ammunition issued to police units to be given to gangs and paramilitary organisations, and with kidnapping for his involvement in the forced illegal repatriation of Rwandan exiles and refugees to Rwanda were dropped.
He argued that this should serve to show how systems and institutions in this case the military have been captured.
“I saw a picture of him looking indeed quite relieved from that, but what it underscores is the very clear capture of the institution of the military by the Museveni family which we have been talking about, but which I think this quite obviously projects fully,” Dr Besigye said.
President Museveni promised to consider pardoning Gen Kayihura while he was campaigning in Kisoro District in January 2021.
“Kale Kayihura (former IGP), just like the [Kisoro LC5] chairman said; there’re those who committed heavy sins and we forgave them. So then why don’t we forgive him! Because you’ve asked and said he’s our person [NRM] I’ll speak to the military prosecution and tell them your request and also add in my request to have him forgiven,” Mr Museveni said.
In December 2021, the Senior Presidential Advisor on Special Operations, Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, pleaded for Gen Kayihura to be pardoned.
“Gen K Kayihura was one of those special cadres in the early 1990s who inspired us to serve our nation. Others were late Generals Mayombo and Kazini. If he made mistakes, let us use revolutionary methods of work to rectify them. I request the CIC [Commander-in-Chief] to forgive and rehabilitate him,” Gen Muhoozi said in a tweet.
Whereas it is not known whether it was a result of Gen Muhoozi’s plea that the charges were dropped, Dr Besigye argued that the idea that charges against someone can be dropped because a son appealed to his father should worry those in the military.
“This kind of approach should worry certainly those who are in uniform, whom I highly sympathise with because all it means is that they are really captives,” Dr Besigye said.