Kale Kayihura
Kale Kayihura

Uganda's former police chief, General Kale Kayihura, has been released on bail after 76 days in military custody on charges of failure to protect war materials and aiding and abetting kidnapping.

Kayihura is charged with allowing arms and ammunition issued to police units to be given to gangs and paramilitary organizations, and with kidnapping for his involvement in the forced illegal repatriation of Rwandan exiles and refugees to Rwanda. Kayihura faces a maximum penalty of death if convicted.

In seeking bail, Kayihura's lawyers argued the 62-year-old is not well and requires medical attention outside Uganda. 

Analysts say that as police inspector general, Kayihura had worked more to suppress political opposition and protect the power of President Yoweri Museveni, rather than on actual policing.

But political analyst Patrick Wakida argues that because Kayihura is a military official, his alleged quest for power was misconstrued as resistance to the government from within the army, which led to his persecution and prosecution.

"And what lies underneath these cases that they have put on him is a power struggle," Wakida said. "And I can tell you that power struggle will continue. Even those who are actually prosecuting him are asking themselves, 'What comes next to us?' Does it only prove what everybody says, 'That there is only one emperor in this country? The rest are servants of that emperor.'"

One of Kayihura's lawyers, Jet Tumwebaze, says his arrest and continued detention by the army is an injustice. He adds any actual lawbreakers are still in the ranks.

"You can see, they promised to charge General Kale [Kayihura] with 19 counts and the other day they only could manage a miserable three, which are also service offenses," Tumwebaze said. "If I am the head, and my lieutenants abused their firearms, go for them. So if any officer working under General Kale, kidnapped or misused the gun, please [arrest] the guys still [in] the confines of this republic. Let the law take its course."

Kayihura must remain in Kampala and Wakiso, and may not leave Uganda without permission of the military court and army leadership.