2021 Elections: Why Museveni badly needs Kayihura

Kayihura, Bobi Wine, Besigye and Museveni.

News of the imminent return to government of former Inspector General of Police General Edward Kale Kalekyezi Kayihura made rounds online on July 20 to the shock of many Ugandans.

Reports claimed Kayihura was scheduled to bounce back to national security circles as the National Coordinator of Intelligence.

Former spymaster Gen David Tinyefuza (Sejusa) formerly held that position.

It’s believed that the once upon a time Museveni confidant will be tasked with fixing the conflict between the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) and the Internal Security Organisation (ISO).

ISO and CMI are the two most key national intelligence gathering organs. But bickering between officials of the two agencies has reportedly exposed the country to potential danger.

Kayihura had been at the helm of the Uganda Police Force for nearly one-and-a-half decades prior to his eventual axing in March 2018.

He faced a number of charges, including, but not limited to, espionage, and returning foreign refugees to Rwanda where some of them met their death.

The US also accused Kayihura of leading an entity whose image was tainted by gross human rights abuse. He however denied the accusations.

Kayihura would go on to face the law and spend over two months in prison mid-2018,only to be released on bail.

The media then shoved Kayihura into publicity oblivion, with a few reports of his possible return to government published online, until now when the rumours of his redeployment surfaced.

It was argued by some sources that the powerful general’s arrest was actually a plot by his employer to shield him from the wrath of the uncompromising ICC which had issued a notice of intention to take him on for crimes allegedly committed as IGP.

This argument makes sense since his arrest and eventual prosecution would mean he couldn’t be questioned for the same offences in any other court under the legal principle of double jeopardy.

Now that his man is safe, Museveni can comfortably turn to him as a super fixer as the country heads into its, arguably, most uncertain electoral process since the advent of the ruling regime in 1986.


Kayihura’s unmatched profile in problem solving (or fixing) is one reason why Museveni had to look nowhere else (if the reports of his redeployment are the smoke that fire will follow).

Rising to the helm of UPF in 2005, Kayihura faced the most challenging task in the history of the force he was taking over from a soft and more professional leadership of General Edward Katumba Wamala.

Opposition leader Col (Rtd) Dr Kizza Besigye would later come back to take part in the general elections the following year which would pose a tough security challenge to Kayihura’s new administration in the force.

There were threats of mass demonstrations that threatened to kick Museveni, his employer, out of power; especially with Besigye facing rape charges.

General Museveni had also faced a challenge of the then Kampala Mayor Nasser Ntege Sebbagala and his infamous Youth Brigade which had threatened to stage city demonstrations in the event that the 2001 elections were rigged.

It only took the intervention of the then spy master Sejusa to convince Sebbagala against the move, gifting Museveni with a sigh of relief.

As promised, Sebbagala indeed demobilized his boys and felt safe in the meantime.

However, a lasting solution had to be thought of. There was argent need to build the Police Force’s capacity to hand such scenarios in future.

Museveni was not willing to face a similar embarrassment of having to beg SebBagala for mercy as a way of consolidating his power.

As such, Kayihura was appointed and one wouldn’t be wrong to conclude that his tenure was largely successful in the same regard.


Bobi Wine and Besigye. Photo montage: Courtesy

Although Kayihura must have left his notes behind for his successors to refer to in an attempt to keep Besigye and any other future anti regime forces under check, the addition of MP Robert Kyagulanyi’s People Power to the Besigye defiance camp means security has to do more.

Becoming an MP in 2017 without any political history, the youthful pop star would later turn into a fierce critic of the regime, becoming a possible presidential contender in the process.

Even with all the time he would have needed, Bobi Wine strategically opted against forming a political party which has made the security’s attempts to watch his activities a lot complicated.

Also, though the opposition coalition nightmare still persists, Museveni’s political challengers in Besigye and Bobi Wine pose a headache for him.

As such, Kayihura who has the blue print of the effective opposition containment measures remains the only formidable person for the job hence, his possible recall.


Tumukunde was a very important component in Museveni’s 2016 reelection drive serving as a chief mobiliser in the process.

He is remembered for keeping Museveni protected against the possible political damage from former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi.

Tumukunde flew in a military chopper at a Mbabazi rally venue in Fort Portal, dispersing the crowd who had converged to hear  from the former Museveni ally.

While campaigning in Northern Uganda the following month, Mbabazi cried foul and accused Tumukunde of frustrating his campaigns by intimidating and buying off his supporters.

Tumukunde has since decamped to opposition and will most likely be challenging Museveni in next year’s presidential poll.

Kayihura’s rivalry with Tumukunde, especially when the two served as IGP and Security Minister, respectively, is all that makes Museveni believe that the former will, with no doubt, be the right choice for the task.

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