The Kayihura camp is also miffed at the involvement of Kayihura’s wife and children on the sanction list and allegations of corruption and drug smuggling.
“To think that Gen. Kayihura who was an IGP for 13 years with such a humongous budget could be involved in smuggling drugs and cocaine, pangolin scales and ivory is really laughable,” his lawyer says, “Kayihura personally created Environmental Protection Police, if he wanted to smuggle ivory, we would have no elephant left.”
Finally they argue, even if Gen. Kayihura was not an angel, he cannot be accused of crimes committed by any of the 40,000 strong force he led.
“How can you say he committed a crime of 100 policemen?” asks his lawyer, ““Jean Pierre Bemba (DR Congo warlord) was acquitted by the ICC for crimes committed by his rebels.”
Warning shot from America?
Several commentators have been repeating those lines since America sanctioned Kayihura. In their view, the Kayihura sanctions are a warning shot from the superpower. In the lead up to the 2021 elections in Uganda, the Americans have been schmoozing with leaders of the opposition to Museveni’s 33-year reign, especially the youthful leader of the People Power movement, Kyadongo East MP Robert Sentamu Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine; the music superstar turned red-bereted politician.
America’s cozying up with the Museveni opposition is against a strategic disagreement in the American capital, Washington, between President Trump’s Africa defence strategists and the diplomats in the State Department.
The diplomats favour Museveni being kicked out while the defense team swears by his strategic role in maintaining peace in Uganda, South Sudan, Burundi, Somalia, and DR Congo. Without Museveni, the American defense strategists believe, the Great Lakes could go up in flames and require their intervention.
For now, the forces for and against Museveni in Washington appear fairly balanced. But a lot is riding on how the 2021 general elections in Uganda pans out. In the last election of 2016, Kayihura unleashed the security forces against the opposition and on Election Day placed Museveni’s main challenger Kizza Besigye under house arrest. Kayihura squashed threats or attempts at protests against the election results with brutal force.
That job in 2021 will fall on Martins Okoth Ochola and his deputy Sabiiti Muzeyi. Or as we have seen recently, the head of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, Brig. Abel Kandiho or the head of the Internal Security Organisation (ISO), retired Col. Kaka Bagyenda, might play major roles.
This duo is seen as very hardline and has been accused of running detainee torture chambers Kayihura-style in so-called `safe houses’. In this they have the tacit support of the Minister for Security and decorated 1986 bush war veteran Gen. Elly Tumwine. The sanctions against Kayihura, according to most commentators, could be the American way of telling this group, `we are watching you’ and your wives and children.