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How Museveni plotted to bring police under Military’s thumb

L-R Henry Tumukunde, Kale Kayihura, President Museveni

Museveni appoints Gen.Tumwine, Magyenyi to bring ‘infiltrated’ police under Military’s thumb

 Kampala, Uganda | HAGGAI MATSIKO | President Yoweri Museveni on Sunday March 04 moved to clean up the shabby image of the country’s security agencies when he fired Police Chief Gen. Kale Kayihura and Security Minister Lt.Gen. Henry Tumukunde.

Although the duo had for some time been discredited limping lame ducks in their positions, some insiders say, the manner of their sacking does not show Museveni at his tactical best and mighthave exposed him as weak and indecisive, insiders say.Part of the lack of enthusiasm around the shuffle concerns their replacements.

Museveni’s biggest move was to replace Tumukunde as the new security minister with Gen. EllyTumwine. But according to several commentators, it is also the weakest partly because Tumwine’s appointment represents a move backwards – to 1986 when he was first army commander, minister of Defence, head of the External Security Agency (ESO) and more.

Although not a novice in security, having been the first bush war commander of Museveni’s rag-tag bush army in 1981, Tumwine is now 64 years and been out of effective service since 1996.

His return is read together with that of Retired Col. Frank Kaka Bagyenda, another bush war veteran, to head the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) and the renewed influence of President Museveni’s decorated brother and war hero, Gen. Caleb Akandwanaho aka Salim Saleh.

The inter-agency rivalry between Bagyenda’s ISO, who was seen as a surrogate of Tumukunde and Saleh, partly prompted this reshuffle. It is not clear what Bagyenda’s fate will be now that Tumukunde is out.

Equally interesting is how the boss of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI), Col. Abel Kandiho and the new player at police Brig. Sabiiti Magyenyi of the so-called Muhoozi 1997 group (in reference to young officers recruited and groomed by Museveni’s son, Maj-Gen. Muhoozi Kainergugaba) will either gel or break up with the old guard of EllyTumwine, Bagyenda, and, to some extent Saleh.

 Tumwine and Ochola’sroles

In reality, a lot rides on how seriously Gen. Tumwine intends to play his role. In the past the Security ministry has been an inconsequential docket.The posting that matters most has always been that of the military head, the Chief of Defense Forces (CDF), currently Gen. David Muhoozi.

The Security docket has at times been held by people who were both clueless and disinterested. But Tumwine is not one of these and sparks could soon be flying.If that happens we might soon see a fight for supremacy not unlike the one we have been seeing under Kayihura and Tumukunde.

The other big move is Museveni’sreplacement of Kayihura with his former deputy, Okoth Ochola.

Unlike Kayihura, who is a decorated war army general and member of Museveni’s trusted inner circle who was parachuted into the police force in 2005, Okoth-Ochola is a career cop with 30 years on the force and rising through the ranks since joining as a non-commissioned officer in 1988.

Although he joined when Museveni was president, Ochola is seen either as a grey entity or as part of the old-style police force that Museveni is not very fond of.  That Ochola has survived and thrived in an ethnically riven force where his peers have been weeded out, speaks more about his character and survival instinct than his policing proficiency.

A laid back, soft-spoken man with a slow gait and sharp mind, Ochola is difficult to fathom as he keeps himself and his views to himself, wears an incomplete smile on a taciturn face, and is press shy. In other words, he is the total opposite of the man he succeeds. But is he likely to bring a different style to the force? Most likely; he will not.

Part of the reason is that at 60 years of age, although he is two years younger than Kayihura, he looks and acts older. It is unlikely that Ochola will be gallivanting across the country from one crime scene to the next, crafting political strategy in mid-night meetings, or plotting to increase the police’s operational budget to stock up on teargas and anti-riot gear.

Changes in police under him are likely to evolve rather than be reforms. Another reason for an anticipated slower pace is that Ochola is smart enough to recognise that his appointment is a stop-gap measure.


  1. Superb article Haggai. – DIGP Sabiitti has a monumental task ahead. Managing formally upwards (Museveni – Ochola) – Managing informally upwards ( the other Generals -Saleh- Tumwine- Muhoozi ) ; managing horizontally ( the other security agency heads ) – managing downwards (his subordinates) – to ensure a cohesive responsive working security structure . He has the right balance of age , energy and experience. This isn’t a job for a 60 year old – Kayihura worked like a 40 something year old. Best of luck as the security landscape is re- written. If this young man handles the job – guaranteed – he will be IGP in five years- another 5-10 years – CDF.

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