Did Security Sleep As the Killers Plotted? [editorial]

The country is still trying to come to terms with last weekend’s events that claimed at least 90 people and drove hundreds out of their homes in the Rwenzori sub-region.

Later police information said the dead included 75 attackers, 11 civilian victims of the attacks, and 10 security personnel. The identity and motive of the attackers has remained somewhat of a puzzle, with officials variously speaking of tribal hooligans, witchcraft-inspired ethnic zealots and enraged victims of land-related injustice. The coming days will, hopefully, shed more light on this.

It is sad that so many Ugandans could die so easily! And we urge the men and women in security to leave no stone unturned in restoring stability and pursuing justice for the victims. In the medical world, especially in the more developed countries, unexpected and mysterious deaths often occasion investigations until professionals establish the cause of death and if and how that death could have been prevented.

The same should hold for those tasked with the management of society. Ugandans are thus entitled to ask where local and regional leaders were when these ‘tribal hooligans’ or criminals planned their murderous mission. On Monday, local leaders criticised the police chief, Gen Kale Kayihura, accusing the police leadership of turning a deaf ear when they tried to point out aspects of simmering local conflicts.

This may seem unfair to Gen Kayihura. For whatever his shortcomings, Kayihura has been a very visible police chief – traversing the country to respond to situations and calm tensions from time to time. But perhaps the fact that leaders in Kasese found his office inaccessible is instructive.

Perhaps it is high time our security paid a little more attention to potential crises before they become all-out conflict. The area policearmy commanders and intelligence officers, resident district commissioners, district and sub-county internal security officers and LC-I defence secretaries should be taking a good look at themselves and wondering if they slept while the criminals plotted.

It is also hard to imagine that if an opposition leader such as Dr Kizza Besigye or Olara Otunnu had planned a community meeting or a radio appearance in the area, this security apparatus would have failed to know about it in aance.

Source : The Observer

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