Danger to Democracy: Uganda’s Security agencies are too politicized

By Omar Kalinge-Nnyago

Let me begin by making a categorical statement. I am willing and ready

to testify on the complicity of the Police with Kiboko Squad. This is

because I am not an armchair commentator on the Kiboko squad, also

known as Uganda's Interahamwe. I am a victim, with wounds and bruises

to show from last week's attack on a NAFFE organized peaceful demo in

support of a free and fair election, in which JEEMA's Asuman Basalirwa

and FDC's Besigye were brutally attacked by the police and Kiboko

squad. NAFFE is the National Alliance for a Free and Fair Election,

led by former ACFODE communications officer Margaret Wokuri. The media

chose to twist the facts and decided to call it an IPC demonstration.

IPC had only been invited to attend the assembly. That's how the IPC

leaders found themselves there. It was never an IPC led demo.

Last week, and throughout this week the discussion on Kiboko squad has

continued. The Inspector General of Police and former Uganda Peoples'

Defence Forces political commissar Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura denied any

knowledge of the Kiboko squad. He did not tell the truth. He is fully

aware of the Kiboko squad, that is why although he came physically to

the scene of the beatings, hiding behind the tinted window screens of

his car, he did not order any arrests. By pretending to be surprised

that Kiboko squad beat up people he reduced himself to an

unprofessional officer not averse to disinformation. He was actually

playing hide and seek, hoping that Ugandans are so ignorant and not

particularly intelligent. Kiboko squad is commanded from the Central

Police Station, CPS, and that is where they often emerge to terrorize

innocent people. I saw them personally during the Mabira

demonstration. If for the sake of argument we believe Kayihura's

feigned ignorance of the Kiboko squad, then he should resign as police

chief. The whole town knows who the Kiboko squad are. How can a police

chief with his privileged position of access to intelligence be

unaware? Is somebody undermining his authority? Is he less than keen

on his duties as IGP?
I have never met Kayihura in private. We have, though, had public

exchange with Maj Gen Kayihura before, as recent as May 28th 2010. We

contended that the Police had become a political organization and that

its claimed professionalism and credibility is at stake. Matters have

not been helped by Kayihura's innovation of establishing a full office

of Political Commissar of the Uganda Police, now headed by Asan

“What does a political commissar of the Uganda Police Force do in a

multiparty democracy?” I asked Kayihura on the occasion. He said that

he deals with “ideological matters” and also to “liaise with the

public” – typical tongue in cheek display. Dealing with the public

has nothing to do with ideology or politics. Uganda Police was meant

to be a neutral force that would serve all - without wearing

ideological lenses. Kayihura has harmed the reputation of the police

so badly, it will take a long time for the next government to

rehabilitate the Police Force's image. The real professionals in the

Police Force must be very frustrated with the situation. They are

being forced to forget all that they learned at Police school and at

the higher police academies they have attended. The police should

never become a tool of a regime.
Throughout Uganda's turbulent history, significant political change

has resulted into the disbanding of the Army, because the army has

always been political and a tool of the regime. The Police Force and

Uganda Prisons have always survived. They had kept their neutral

professional image. Not anymore. Unless the regime rethinks its

strategy of politicizing the police force, the next government may

find itself in the unenviable position of building a new police force

that would be acceptable to all.
It was laughable that Kayihura talked of an inquiry into the Kiboko

squad. How do you inquire into what you already know? Why do you waste

tax payers' money on an inquiry whose results are known. Where I come

from there is a saying about old men, who have no shame. Watching

octagerian Minister for Internal Affairs Kirunda Kivejinja on TV

denying knowledge of the Kiboko squad on Tueday this week, I

sympathized with him. What a legacy he will live behind! Old men

should not use their last days on earth being untruthful.

We don't need an inquiry. What we need is a public debate with

Kayihura on the 'Kiboko squad' and I am ready to take him on.

[email protected]