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Uganda Scrambles to Stop Assassinations

By Halima Athumani June 21, 2018

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has issued new security measures intended to stop a disturbing trend of assassinations. Addressing parliament, Museveni blamed police, elements of which he said are colluding with criminals.

Museveni outlined the new measures in his address to lawmakers. They include setting up a modern forensic laboratory, installing CCTV cameras, shooting down unregistered drones, and banning hooded shirts, known as hoodies.

He also said Uganda would start to "fingerprint" guns – that is, record the characteristics of individual firearms.

"I have now issued the order in the subcommittee of the National Security Council that all the guns must be fingerprinted by firing each gun a number of times in controlled conditions to capture the fingerprints of each one of them," he said.

The measures are driven in part by the assassinations of several government officials, including state prosecutor Joan Kagezi, army official Muhammed Kiggundu, Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Felix Kaweesi, and most recently, ruling party legislator Ibrahim Abiriga.

All four were killed the same way, by a hail of bullets delivered by two men on a motorcycle who left only after they were sure the target was dead.

For that reason, Museveni said every vehicle and motorcycle must now have electronic number plates installed at the cost of the owner.

Police complicity

The president blames the assassinations, in part, on the police.

"There are always clues either before or after that are sometimes not followed up by the concerned people – the problem of lack of vigilance by the public and the police, police not bothering to find pistols, not even bothering to go there," he said. "Negligence and even collusion with the criminals by some elements in the security forces have been part of the problem."

General Jeje Odongo, the minister for internal affairs, acknowledged the failures by the police but said officials are taking steps to find lasting solutions, including examining internal capacity and levels of dexterity

"Thirdly, we are also looking at assisting the force by building technical capacity," he added. "This is not to deny the fact that, yes, we have had problems of complicity by some officers."

Early last week, the former inspector general of police, Kale Kayihura, and some of his close associates, were arrested on yet unconfirmed charges.

Odongo said Kayihura is being presumed guilty before any trial, amid suspicion that he could have masterminded the assassination of his assistant.

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