The termination of services of former IGP Kale Kayihura in March for a short time seemed to return the subject of security to the service chiefs, the heads of UPDF, ISO, CMI, Police acting jointly. The honeymoon did not last long until the execution in June of Arua Municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga in the twilight of the day in the city’s northern suburbs.
This one attracted a presidential address to Parliament, new security measures, which cannot be funded from the budget, further arrests from the closed circle of the former IGP and eventually his own confinement in Makindye military barracks last month.
In the last three months, the new IGP, Martins Okoth Ochola, has been announcing transfers of the high and low, and a UPDF contingent that was in police serving at his predecessor’s behest, was returned to the army for further orders. As a full General, the former IGP is entitled to a number of flag officers and staff in his entourage and his chief of staff should be at the rank of Colonel.
In early July, internal leaks escalated attention in the Felix Kaweesi murder/execution of March 2017. Further speculation, arrests, confessions continued to grow. The major media reported that Kaweesi had been a subject of top-level security meeting and was wanted for the death of a Kampala businessman, whose widow refused to back down in the face of threats, bribes and intimidation.
One month after Abiriga’s murder, police have curiously still failed to produce any suspect in court. Most of the country’s attention in June was fixated on the detention of Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze Bakireke on charges of computer misuse and incitement rather than the actual murder of Abiriga. Nambooze was later released from Kiruddu hospital located in a beehive of private pharmacies and clinics operating off the official hospital southwest of the city.
Last week, the public was circled back to the familiar, an arrest of a bus of visitors from Rwanda, who arrived without sufficient documentation, a near impossibility or knowledge of where they were going. It always appears that most major security problems in Uganda have a connection with Rwanda where they “cross” the border and disappear. Both the police and the Judiciary have very close bilateral ties to Rwanda, which regularly hosts high level Uganda officials.
There is a very high level of travel between Uganda and Rwanda today that absent trade rivals movement of people by road to Nairobi, the regional capital.
At the family level, more Ugandans are rediscovering their connections to Rwanda, in itself a positive development due to the Rwandans long stay in exile in Uganda since the 1950s. Ugandans at the religious level also regularly travel to Rwanda for pilgrimage. Our Lady of Kibeho south of Kigali is a major place of pilgrimage.
Two other internal political developments seem to have caught the Rwanda wave. First is some small momentum in the leading opposition party FDC, which in 2018, snatched two seats from NRM in Jinja West and Rukungiri after successful election petitions. Each of the two factions in FDC won one apiece.
Barring missteps, FDC may win two or more seats in the forthcoming polls across the country, a major psychological boost, especially after NRM miraculously blew Shs5 billion on used motorcycles and other forms of junk in the Rukungiri by-election. This expenditure attracted a lot of dissent in NRM, including inside Cabinet.
It is, therefore, miraculous that to stem this opposition momentum, the security chiefs want first to tag the Opposition to unrest and violence as depicted in electronic media reports this week. This followed widespread rumours that many opposition politicians were on government’s payroll.
Going by the gestation path of rumours in Kampala, it will then be necessary to lump them with Rwanda. And the cycle will continue. Meanwhile, the expected charges against Kaweesi’s killers will delay, and Abiriga’s killers will continue enjoying their vacation as police awaits further directions.
Mr Ssemogerere is an Attorney-at-Law and an Advocate. firstname.lastname@example.org