The story of how the Inspector General of Police, Kale Kayihura, begged opposition icon, Kizza Besigye, to save him from being sacked was never to be told-under no circumstances whatsoever.
It is contained in the secret files recorded and kept away following the 2011 brutal arrest of Besigye and international community condemnation of the militant Ugandan police force.
This is the untold story:
In 2010, then Inter-Party Cooperation chairman and FDC president, Besigye met Kayihura and agreed to work together to ensure peaceful general elections.
Both parties agreed that whenever the opposition is holding a peaceful demonstration, they will only notify police rather than asking for permission.
Police had made it a habit to arrest and lock away opposition members over alleged illegal assemblies and inciting violence.
In April 2011, Besigye was temporarily blinded after police fired pepper spray into his eyes and dragged him from his car on gunpoint.
He had just launched a fifth round of protests against rising food and fuel prices.
The protests dubbed “walk to work” saw the arrest of hundreds of Besigye’s supporters, the smashing of his car by a fanatical cop, Gilbert Bwana Arinaitwe, and his final detention.
Judith Nabakooba, then police spokeswoman, accused Besigye of defying police directives saying police had used “reasonable force”.
Besigye sues Kayihura
Besigye made press statements warning Kayihura after police camped at his Kasangati home and placed him under house arrest.
In October 2011, Besigye filed a case against Kayihura over his continued detention at home to allegedly prevent him from participating in the walk-to-walk campaign.
Also accused alongside Kayihura was the then Operations Commander for Kampala Metropolitan North, Sam Omala, who has been commandeering the dozens of policemen who barricaded Besigye’s home in Kasangati.
International community condemns police
Just two days after President Museveni was sworn in for a fourth term in office, Amnesty International, (AI) a US-based human rights watchdog released its 2011 global human rights report.
The report documented various human rights violations by law enforcement agencies, including unlawful killings and torture, electoral violence, threats to free expression and assembly.
The report came at a time when Uganda was on spotlight over brutality of state agencies in quelling Besigye’s walk-to-work peaceful protests.
It said 10 people were killed calling for international condemnation of the brutal police force.
In May 2011, the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, condemned police for using excessive force against opposition politicians and protesters.
Ms. Pillay drew attention to the case of Besigye who was arrested four times and even shot in the hand.
UN also condemned the Rapid Response Unit [the notorious RRU boys], a police unit that tortured Ugandans on a large scale leading to its disbandment.
Museveni brands foreign media his enemies
Following the UN condemnation, Museveni branded the BBC and other international media organisations as “enemies” because of their coverage of anti-government protests.
In a statement published in the New Vision newspaper, Museveni warned: “The media houses, both local and international, such as al-Jazeera, BBC, NTV, The Daily Monitor, etc, that cheer on these irresponsible people, are enemies of Uganda’s recovery and they will have to be treated as such.”
At least 10 journalists were assaulted by soldiers and police while covering protests.
In April 2011, a story appeared in The London Evening Post, faulting Kayihura for overseeing the most “cruel and brutal” police force and labelling him as partisan [pro-NRM].
A4C riots, Ingrid arrest
In April 2012, Besigye launched another phase of riots under his Activists for Change (A4C) pressure group.
Kayihura issued a statement warning that political assemblies by A4C would not be allowed, calling them unlawful.
The a policeman arrested FDC Women’s League leader, Ingrid Turinawe, by grabbing her right breast repeatedly and fondling it at a rally in Nansana.
Women and human rights defenders stripped naked and protested the action capturing international attention.
Besigye was also busy making statements accusing Kayihura of being partisan, brutal and using excessive force to quell peaceful demonstrations.
Kayihura meets, begs Besigye
As the police image went to the dogs, the cornered Kayihura quietly called and met Besigye.
The police chief even visited Besigye’s home without being noticed by many.
In the top secret meeting, Kayihura begged Besigye not to say his name again while condemning police actions.
“You can mention police as an institution not my name,” Kayihura begged.
The police chief reasoned with Besigye saying his name had already been tarnished in the eyes of the international community and rights bodies.
He further said if rights bodies maintained their condemnation of his activities, they could influence his boss to sack him from the police force.
Looking frustrated, Kayihura also appealed to Besigye to heed police directives so they don’t clash with his supporters.
We cannot publish details of the deal the police chief and opposition leader struck.
But, once more, Kayihura and Besigye agreed to bury the hatchet and look to the future.
Since then, Kayihura started going easy on Besigye making sure no violent or brutal arrests are subjected to the FDC strongman.
Kayihura faults cops over Besigye
In a shocking February 2014 development, Kayihura lashed out at his intelligence officers for failing to detect Besigye’s movements.
Besigye had just humiliated cops and fled his Kasangati home where they were keeping him from travelling to Kampala.
“If the crime intelligence was effective and efficient, Besigye wouldn’t be escaping from his home and he goes to the city centre to cause chaos,” Gen Kayihura said during a pass out ceremony for intelligence officers at Masindi Police Training School, Kabalye.
He revealed they always had prior knowledge of Besigye’s movements yet he continued to elude them.
Kayihura showers praises on Besigye, calls him a clean man
In May 2015, Kayihura told Makerere University students that Besigye was a “clear man” who takes a stand and sticks to it.
He made the remark after Besigye had been arrested at Nakivubo stadium and his vehicle reportedly vandalised.
“I respect Dr. Besigye. I tried to be his friend. I even went to his home. But he refused to be my friend.”
He continued: “I respect Dr. Besigye because he is clear with his stand. I respect someone who takes a stand and sticks to it. Not opportunists.”
Kayihura said Besigye was free to hold his views, to do whatever he does, but he had to do it within the law.
“Let him write to us. We shall even give him protection. He is acting irresponsibly.”
Besigye cleared for rallies
Indeed Kayihura kept his word and in July 2015, cleared Besigye to hold rallies and address public gatherings while campaigning for FDC presidential flag bearer with Mugisha Muntu.
Although some of his rallies were interrupted by police, his campaigns were allowed to take place in all the towns he visited across the country.
Police even went an extra mile and restored Besigye’s vehicle that had been kept at Central Police Station for sometime.
Both Besigye and Kayihura seem to have kept their end of the bargain.