Monday, September 14, 2009



By Catherine Bekunda

POLICE chief Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura has said some rioters had illegal guns and are responsible for the death and injuries of several people.

Officially, 14 people died in the riots that rocked Kampala and parts of Buganda last week following the Government’s objection to the Kabaka’s tour of Kayunga for security reasons.

“Illegal guns are not only restricted to Karamoja but are also in the city. It’s not true that all who were shot were by the Police. People grabbed guns from security guards,” Kayihura said.

The Police chief pointed out that rioters grabbed a gun from a Saracen security guard and shot at a Police officer who was injured in the leg. The Saracen guard was shot dead.

A soldier who was on a pick-up truck was also killed in the riots, although it was not clear whether he was targeted or killed by a stray bullet.

“Some of these rioters are veterans from the Police and the army who know how to use guns.”

Kayihura was speaking at a joint press briefing, held at the Media Centre yesterday, on the security situation in the country.

The briefing was addressed by the Government Chief Whip, Daudi Migereko, the presidential advisor on Buganda matters, Robert Sebunya, and the chairman of the Broadcasting Council, Godfrey Mutabazi.

Kayihura said the situation had been brought under control. The Police, he explained, had increased its motorised patrols on several highways in the country and vehicles were no longer stopped. “Both goods and people to and out of Uganda are safe,” he assured.

He warned that the Police would shoot on sight anybody who engaged in acts of violence.

He said the Police had captured the mastermind behind the burning of Natete Police post. He also told journalists that two Police officers had been arrested in Kasubi, a city suburb, for using excessive force.

Quoting the Penal Code, Kayihura said the Police are allowed to use reasonable force and firearms in dispersing and arresting rioters.

The section of the code also indicates that the Police “shall not be liable in any criminal or civil proceeding for having, by the use of such force, caused harm or death to any person.”

On the media, Kayihura assured journalists of safety but appealed to them to be objective in their work. “Some of you are very aggressive and you put yourselves in harm’s way,” he said.

Migereko also said the Government was not responsible for the deaths during the riots. He argued that the security forces were only trying to secure the lives of innocent Ugandans. He sent condolences to all those who lost beloved ones.

“We shall investigate and bring to book all the inciters, perpetrators, organisers and planners of the riots,” he said.

Migereko further lauded the Katikkiro’s “constructive engagement” with the Government and said a meeting between President Yoweri Museveni and Kabaka Ronald Mutebi will be held any time.

“We are gratified that the Kabaka is ready to sit down and work with the President to straighten issues that have led to bad relations between the central Government and Mengo,” he said.

“The Government is committed to resolving issues of contention through discussion and constitutional arrangements.”

Migereko also dismissed messages circulated through SMS and the internet that the Kabaka was under house arrest. He said the sources were being investigated.

“Government has noted that there are certain elements dragging cultural institutions into partisan politics.”

He explained that these were not genuine friends of the Kabaka. When pressurised, Migereko named DP and FDC as being actively involved in Mengo.

On his part, Mutabazi defended the suspension of the five radio stations. He said they had to act in a pre-emptive manner to prevent further bloodshed that would have resulted from the hate talk carried on the radios.

Those suspended include the two CBS stations belonging to Buganda kingdom, Radio Sapientia of the Catholic Church, Radio Two (Akaboozi Kubbiri) and Suubi.

“How many people should have died before us taking action?” he asked. He maintained that the council had acted independently and not on the directive of the Government.

On the arrest of Radio One talk-show host Kalundi Serumaga, Mutabazi said he had launched personal attacks on the President.

Serumaga was arrested on Friday after appearing on a WBS TV talk-show, ‘Kibazo on Friday’. The talk-show has since been suspended.

The Police boss had told journalists on Saturday that he had ordered for Serumaga to be freed on bond. However, he now said he had changed his mind after being briefed by the Criminal Investigations Department.

He said the radio presenter had a bad case because of “uttering lies based on sectarian lines and attacking the President.”

Presidential advisor Sebunya re-affirmed that the Kabaka was not under house arrest and that the Katikkiro, who ordinarily speaks on behalf of the Kabaka, had made several statements condemning the violence on both national and international media.

Meanwhile, the New Vision has learned that 103 people were arrested in Masaka and Rakai districts in the joint army and Police operations to quell the riots. They are part of over 550 people who were arrested all over Buganda in connection with the riots.

Southern Regional Police Commander, Olivia Wawire, said the suspects were picked from Masaka town centre and Nyendo in Masaka district, and from Kalisizo and Kyotera towns in Rakai district.

She confirmed that the situation in Masaka had normalised and business had resumed.

The regional Police spokesperson, Noah Serunjogi, said the mother of the presidential press secretary, Tamale Mirundi, was saved by the Police when rioters wanted to lynch her.

“We got information that a group of hooligans was heading for Mirundi’s mother’s home to kill her but we quickly deployed and saved her life,” Serunjogi said.

In another development, the Kyaddondo South MP, Issa Kikungwe (DP), was yesterday arrested in connection with inciting violence, according to Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba.

Kikungwe was picked at Lweza Catholic Parish church where he was attending the Catholic youth celebrations. The church is situated near Kajjansi in Wakiso district.

“The MP was seeing off the bishop when plain-cloth security operatives came, arrested him and whisked him away,” said an eye-witness.