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Museveni’s eye on intelligence

What ISO boss Balya’s fall, Kayihura’s rise mean

President Yoweri Museveni’s replacement of Brig. Ronnie Balya as the Director General Internal Security Organisation (ISO) is being seen as an extension of the intelligence leadership shakeup that started in June 2015.

Insiders are divided on what is informing the changes with some saying “the President does it all the time” but a general view is that President Museveni, who has been complaining about the failures of intelligence and security bodies, is looking to fix them.

Museveni has replaced Brig. Balya with Rt. Col. Frank Kaka, who fought in the war that brought this government to power and who was a respected intelligence operative even at that time.

The move comes at the heels of a major military reshuffle just two weeks ago in which Museveni moved both Brig. Charles Bakahumura, the Chief of Military Intelligence and his deputy Brig. Richard Karemire from the leadership of CMI, another core intelligence agency. The pair were appointed Chief of Logistics and Engineering and army spokesperson, respectively.

Museveni replaced Brig. Bakahumura with Col Abel Kandiho, who has been Staff Officer under the Office of the State Minster of Defence in charge of Veteran Affairs.

Just a year and a half ago, Museveni had fired the boss of another intelligence agency. The Director General External Security Organisation (ESO), Robert Masolo, was replaced him with Joseph Ocwet.

ISO, CMI and ESO, which  make up the core of Uganda’s mainstream intelligence, are now all under new leadership, that is, Ocwet for ESO, Col. Kandiho for ESO and now Col. Kaka for ISO.

While President Museveni usually has personal reasons for shaking up heads of security and intelligence bodies, insiders say, just like with the army shake up, the intelligence shakeup is also informed by the need to fix them.

Apart from Ocwet, both Col. Kandiho and Col. Kaka are tested commanders and intelligence operatives.

Before his posting, Ocwet was previously Uganda’s Ambassador to the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  In 2004, he was involved in the efforts to mediate between the Government and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels during the Juba peace talks and was also involved in negotiating the return of Gen.  David Sejusa, Uganda’s former coordinator of intelligence services, who had escaped to London after making allegations about a conspiracy to assassinate some in government opposed to alleged plans by President Museveni to have his son, Maj.Gen. Muhoozi  Kainerugaba, succeed him.

Kandiho, on the other hand, has headed military police and the Joint Anti-Terrorism Unit under military intelligence.

Col. Kaka is even more tested. Despite being on Katebe (no deployment) for a longtime, he is a historical in the intelligence community. He was already an intelligence officer during the bush war that brought President Museveni into power. In 1983, for instance, Kaka and Gen. Mugisha Muntu, then both intelligence officers were given an assignment to investigate a group of prisoners including Herbert Itongwa, a fierce fighter, who would later become a major before dying in 2013.

Kaka is said to have carried out intelligence before the 1984 invasion of Masindi Artillery Regiment was carried out. Kaka had previously worked in Masindi.

Maj. Kaka, would later retire into private business in Ssese Islands, where he has been running a hotel. Kaka remained a colonel until 2012 when President Museveni promoted him to Colonel.

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