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Museveni, Tumukunde fight over Kayihura worsens

(L-R) Gen. Kale Kayihura and Lt.Gen. Henry Tumukunde

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President Yoweri Museveni has lifted the lid off why he intervened to get the parliamentary Appointments Committee to approve the re-appointment of Police Chief Gen. Kale Kayihura.

According to sources, the President on May 17 told a cabinet meeting at State House Entebbe that Security Minister Lt.Gen. Henry Tumukunde’s fight against Kayihura was demonising his government.

Insiders say the highlight of the meeting was when Tumukunde attempted to rebut. “Shut up and get out,” the enraged president shouted at one point banging his hands on the table and abruptly ending the cabinet meeting and walking out

Many of the ministers in the room reportedly appeared not to be surprised by Museveni’s frustration since the beef between Tumukunde and Kayihura is public secret and is, among informed circles, blamed for the deteriorating security situation in the country. As it has gotten worse, it has sucked various officials and now the President.

Kayihura had on May 09 been successfully vetted by parliament under what is now being seen as a heavily orchestrated security operation because of the police boss’s undercover arrival at parliament in an ordinary saloon car without his convoy of escorts. The vetting also appeared abrupt as it did not follow the usual announcements and appeared to interrupt an ongoing national budget preparation process.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga explained that there was urgency since Kayihura’s contract had expired as was that of Johnson Byabashaija (the Commissioner General of Prisons) who was vetted and approved at the same time.

Sources at the hot cabinet meeting told The Independent that they had not seen the president this angry with Tumukunde since 2005 when the two men fell out over remarks the security minister made on a radio , which got him charged with spreading harmful propaganda, court-martialed, and eventually kept under house arrest for years.

The two men only reconciled before the 2015 Museveni reelection campaigns in which Tumukunde played a major role and was later rewarded with the post of Security Minister.

However, according to sources, Museveni  is now angry with Tumukunde because he has received a report that he is working with agents in the intelligence bodies he supervises to throw dirt at senior government officials amongst whom was Kayihura.

Kayihura appeared an easy target because he has been a controversial figure for long and there was speculation that the vetting committee might reject his nomination.

A leading good-governance activist, Andrew Karamagi, on May 03 accused him of being implicated in conduct “completely unbecoming of a police officer” in petitioned parliament to block his reappointment.

Opposition leaders, including Kizza Besigye, have also habitually insisted Kayihura is unfit to lead police. Even some respected police names, like retired assistant commissioner of police, Rheno Karugaba, have accused Kayihura of taking the police on a roller coaster of partisan policing which has never been seen in this country.

“You have turned the UPF from a civilian law enforcement agency into a highly militarised goon squad specifically aimed at controlling the grey area between what constitutes ‘crime’ and ‘politics,” Karugaba wrote in his scathing 4578 word letter in 2014 detailing why he had turned down an invite to Celebration of 100 years of policing in Uganda.

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