When the Uganda Police Force (UPF) was under a cadre, General Kale Kayihura, it was without a doubt, partisan and unprofessional.
It was properly fused into the structures of the ruling party, National Resistance Movement (NRM). It clearly appeared intent on protecting and insulating the NRM from any form of opposition. The formal police recruitment procedures had been abandoned. For instance, Nixon Agasirwe, a shoe vendor and an informant in Mbarara town, ended up installed as a high-ranking senior police officer.
His loyalty was not to the Constitution but to Kale Kayihura. Kayihura also preferred to use dodgy and informal groups such as Boda boda 2010 led by the convicted Abdallah Kitatta.
This group committed more crimes, some as heinous as murder. Indeed in the wake of Kayihura’s ouster, President Yoweri Museveni said police had been infested with “weevils”- Kawuukumi.
He sacked the conflicted officer and replaced him with a career officer, Martins Okoth Ochola. Ochola began well by reminding and preaching the core values of discipline to his officers. He said going forward, officers would be individually liable when they commit crimes or breach the newly enacted Human Rights (Enforcement) Act.
One would have thought that UPF superintended by a professional career officer would be an exemplary force. Not at all! The conduct of police especially in the last 15 days after nomination of presidential candidates has been chaotic and despicable.
Oftentimes, they have been the cause of chaos when they teargas followers of candidates. And as a consequence, some people have died and others maimed. And police doesn’t seem to care about its core role of protecting people and their property.
Police ought to know that Uganda runs a multiparty political system and, therefore, as a state agency, they must give equal protection to all players.
The conduct of the police especially when dealing with two particular candidates; Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu of National Unity Platform (NUP) and Patrick Amuriat of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) depicts a discriminatory UPF. They should not treat these candidates like marauders who ought to be ejected from the race!
The Observer would like to remind the inspector general of police that he needs to keep his officers on a tight leash. In a democratic society, there are always compromises, which ought to be tolerated and one of them is the fact that not all citizens have the same political affiliations.
And ideas must not be defeated by an axe or barrel of a gun. They must be matched with superior ideas. We pray that UPF reflects on its actions and reverts to the standards according to which it ought to conduct itself.