Charles Etukuri and Abdulkarim Ssengendo interviewed the Inspector General of Police Gen. Kale Kayihura on the recent wave of unrest in the country as well as claims that he was harassing supporters of the Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi in Kanungu.
He also spoke about speculation that he is joining Uganda Revenue Authority:
Q: We have witnessed a wave of attacks in Kasese, Bundibugyo, Kyegegwa and now Hoima. Is this a sign of troubling times ahead?
A: It is not true that the country is unstable, on the contrary it is more stable now than before. When I was appointed Inspector General of Police, the situation in the country was more tense.
We had public order management challenges, crime was very high, then we had the 2006 elections, shortly after that we had the Mabira riots to handle, then the 2011 elections, walk-to-work riots which almost put the country at the edge but we were able to neutralise it.
We have been able to neutralise the threat of rebellion in the country. The Lord’s Resistance Army is no more, the Allied Democratic Front has been decimated.
The recent incident in Kyegegwa where a church was attacked was successfully investigated and the culprits arrested.
The recent clashes in Kasese and Bundibugyo were bad but we have contained it.
On the Kasese - Bundibugyo confl ict, the only thing that you can criticise us on is failure to fully resolve the underlying tensions which fed into this primitive violence.
The National Security Council met and is more focused on making sure that an incident like this never happens again.
I also want to tell the public that there is no country, including some of the most developed, that is free of such incidents.
Q: You arrested close to seven ministers from the Rwenzururu kingdom. There were rumours that you were actually going for the Rwenzururu Omusinga Charles Wesley Mumbere but that you backtracked. Why?
A: Law enforcement is quite a complex matter. True you could receive intelligence implicating someone in a crime but then it may not be to that level that will satisfy the demands of the courts of law.
Usually we are required to prove a case beyond reasonable doubt. That is the reason why we did not go after him but when we get the evidence nobody is above the law.
We have succeeded in getting the planners and some of them are voluntarily surrendering to us and volunteering more information.
Q: The fact that close to 200 people could get recruited and trained and launch an attack that took the security by surprise is a cause to worry. Should the public trust the intelligence structure again?
A: We acknowledge that there were weaknesses on the ground but we are trying to rectify it. But then again it is not only us who have weaknesses.
The Americans failed to avert the September 2001 terror bombings despite the fact that their intelligence is everywhere. We should not be judged harshly.
We have prevented so many terror attacks before.
We have sent in our professional people to Kasese and Bundibugyo and we are carrying out an audit to fi nd out what went wrong. We received information that some of the local intelligence and people concerned were given prior warning but they failed to act.
Last year there were similar tensions that were building up in the same area and we got information and deployed.
Q: Last week, Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi was in Parliament warning you against harassing people close to him.
There are claims that you are actually arresting people perceived to be supporting him especially in Kanungu.
A: I did not follow the proceedings in Parliament apart from the few bits that I read in the papers. But this was rather unfortunate. The truth is that we did not brief the Prime Minister in time and whoever briefed him added a twist to the whole thing.
This was a case of arson which was reported at the local Police station. I did not even know the owner of that building and we left it to the local Police to investigate the matter.
Later we got information that it was a much bigger issue than we thought.
Being a border area we had to investigate because you could not rule out terrorism.
The preliminary report indicated that the whole thing was politically motivated, which prompted us to send in a team from Special Investigations Unit led by the commandant Charles Kataratambi which was supposed to work with the Directorate of Public Prosecution so that if a crime had been committed the fi le was sanctioned and the culprits taken to court. My visit to Kanungu was merely meant to assert Police authority since a professional team was already on the ground and had all the technical ability to handle the investigations.
I went there to try and help prevent the brewing tensions that could explode just like the Kasese-Bundibugyo case. I met the district security committee team to get a briefi ng. I then went to the Police station to satisfy myself that things were going on well.
As I was leaving, people gathered and I addressed them to calm them down and reassure them. The property that was destroyed had a concrete fl oor, pillars and was storied.
It also had a bar and restaurant. Even if it was a kiosk that had been burnt, the Constitutional duty of Police is to protect life and property and when a case is reported to police we must investigate.
I am not harassing anybody neither am I being used by anybody. I think next time we need to seek guidance because every time you are investigating and somehow those implicated are politicians, what should we do?
As far as I am concerned a crime is a crime and anytime you get evidence linking somebody they face the law. The discussion about this matter was very unfortunate because it was not based on a proper briefing to the Prime Minister.
But let me now believe he has been fully briefed and I am ready to meet him and also give him the right briefing. We have already briefed the President.
Q: Both of you are senior colleagues in the struggle. There are people who feel that this kind of tension is not good, especially the accusations and counter-accusations. The public gets worried that you are spending much time fi ghting proxy wars.
A: I wouldn’t really want to comment on that beyond what I have said. But then I think what we should be judged on is whether we delivered. The fact is that we are better off today than we were before we took over power as a country. We are moving forward and building systems despite the challenges that we face. Our national army is the one securing the region.
Police has been deployed in Somalia, South Sudan and we have been able to successfully defeat people who thought they could bring here something similar to the Arab Spring and just take over power like that.
Q: There are claims that the Uganda intelligence is actively involved in the investigations in the recent terror attacks in Kenya?
A: The only thing that we did was to send our officer who is attached to our embassy in Nairobi. As heads of the East African Police we agreed to set up a coordination centre and our officer is there as a liaison officer.
Q: Reports in the media last week indicated that you are most likely to become the next URA boss given the fact that the current boss is leaving and that your record as head of the antismuggling unit (Uganda Revenue Authority) gives you an edge over others.
A: I am a disciplined UPDF officer. Where the appointing authority deploys me I will serve. I never look for jobs.
Since we came to Government I have served. I decided to put my life at the disposal of the country. Why should people even speculate about it?
Q: You launched the community policing project in Muyenga as a pilot project. Several years later you have not rolled it out. What is happening?
A: Even this weekend I was in Kisoro passing out crime preventers. The special sitting of the Police council discussing the special programmes for the centenary celebrations agreed to roll out the community policing in whatever form.
On October 3, the head of state will officially launch community policing which has been applauded by the whole world.
After that it will roll out in the entire country. It is already successfully running in some places.
Q: There are claims that you could be among the officials blacklisted by the US and that you cannot travel there because of your record in public order management.
A: Don’t they teargas people in America? Am I the one who manufactures it? I have not been informed and I wouldn’t want to comment on something that is mere speculation. Why would I be blacklisted from travelling to America? What crime have I committed? Am I a terrorist?
Actually on the contrary, I have a very good working relationship with the American embassy and we work well with the FBI.
Q: Recently the NARO director was assaulted by a soldier in full view of the media. But then the soldier is still free and has said nobody can dare arrest him.
A: It was information that has not been brought to me but I will ask the local Police to brief me. Nobody is above the law. If NARO has reason to remove him then they should go ahead. Who is he? We shall definitely take action.
Gen Kale Kayihura, Inspector General of Police
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