The quest by the Inspector General of Police Gen Kale Kayihura to have his tenure renewed for the fifth time in November faces a test after President Yoweri Museveni‘s utterances last week betrayed a crisis of confidence in his leadership.
The president charged the force had been infiltrated by criminals, and ordered Mr Kayihura to clean up, a task multiple analysts say is not simple to execute, as it requires a major shakeup of the police ranks.
In 2001, Justice Julia Sebutinde recommended an overhaul of the police following a wide ranging inquiry into corruption, mismanagement and abuse of office in the force. A report the inquiry implicated senior officers for running criminal gangs.
But her recommendations were only partially implemented.
While the police seem aware of the need for an overhaul, the consequences of such exercise remain unclear. On March 22, Assistant Inspector General of Police Asuman Mugenyi said plans were already afoot to screen the entire police force for ineffective officers and those who may be involved in criminal activities. He, however, could not say when or how this screening was going to be done.
“Even before the death of [Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Kaweesi the IGP had ordered for this to be done and we shall do it,” said Mr Mugenyi, police director of operations.
The demand by President Museveni for an immediate clean-up of the police follows the brutal killing of Mr Kaweesi on March 17, in Kkulambiro village about 15Km northeast of Kampala.
President Museveni and a number of senior security personnel have partly situated the death of Kaweesi, who was eulogised as a steely officer, in the relapse of the intelligence capabilities of the police and the Internal Security Organisation (ISO).
“All these murders I follow them myself. There are always clues leading to who committed the crime but some of the security groups are infiltrated by the criminals,” said President Museveni.
“So you get a situation where they are intimidating witnesses, sometimes killing witnesses. They leak information. That is why the public fears to report to any of these groups. Because when you tell them, before you leave someone is ringing the one you have reported about. So, the Police have been infiltrated by criminals. Kale you must clean the police especially the CIID,” President Museveni added.
A number of former police officers say police have struggled to gather sufficient intelligence to stay ahead of especially serious crime ever since the Special Branch was disbanded in August 2007 — less than two years after Mr Kayihura’s appointment to head the police.
Founded in the early 1950s, the Special Branch had grown to become the crux of intelligence, and indeed national security, in Uganda, honing its skills, refining its experiences, building memory banks as well as cultures/practises vital to intelligence work.
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