The Independent (Kampala)

Uganda: IGP Refutes UN Report Allegations On M23

Photo: Ph. Jonathan Lorrilarl
Inspector General accused of commanding DR Congo's M23 rebels

The Inspector General of Police, Kale Kayihura has said that he is in shock over the UN Group of experts' report allegations about him and the force he commands for training and equipping the M23 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He said the least the experts would have done, is to verify the information they may have received from some "shadowy peddlers of malicious falsehoods and disinformation" in the region.

He said that for any person or the UN to say that he would offer support and assistance to a group led by Bosco Ntaganda is offensive for him.

Kayihura said he has bigger reasons for not supporting Ntaganda because while he was working at the Bunia headquarters (DR Congo) at the Bunia Airport, Ntaganda then a commander of UPC, a rebel outfit, in Bunia and Ituri tried to assassinate him on two separate occasions, while he was on a peace mission in Ituri.

Ntaganda first took him hostage, and then launched an armed attack at the Ugandan headquarters at Bunia airport which was then headed by him.

Speaking about the allegations made against Ugandan police officers and himself in particular, Kayihura set the record, noting that John Ngaruye Ndungutse is not his Deputy as the report states; the Deputy Inspector General of Police is John Martin Okoth Ochola. Ndungutse is the Director of the Counter Terrorism Unit.

He said he clearly remembers the dates and reasons he visited Kisoro this year where he is alleged to have met with the rebels.

Below is Kayihura's full statement:

The Inspector General of Police has responded to allegations of UN Group of Experts on DR. Congo. We reproduce his reply in full.

1. I have read with shock the recent report of the UN Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of Congo (dated 12th October, 2012), in which numerous allegations are made against Uganda, Ugandan officials, and me, personally. In my response I will restrict myself to aspects of the Report that relate to a Police officer called John Ngaruye Ndungutse, and myself, the Inspector General of Police.

2. However, from the outset, I wish to state that am deeply disturbed that at no time in their investigations did the UN Group of Experts notify me of these allegations, the evidence justifying the allegations, and opportunity to respond to the allegations. How could they have failed to do this, and then in their Executive Summary claim to have adhered to a "rigorous investigative methodology to ensure the greatest degree of accuracy of its assertions and conclusions"? Surely, they must have heard of Principles of Natural Justice, and, in the particular, the Right to be heard before one is judged!

3. Secondly, I find their "assertions and conclusions", specifically on John Ngaruye Ndungutse, and myself, Lt Gen Kale Kayihura, the Inspector General of Police, not only fictitious (figments of evil imagination and/or manipulation), but, also, extremely outrageous and offensive. These allegations are being made at a time when the relations of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and, in particular, the Uganda Police and the DRC Police, have never been better. Noteworthy, since the elections in the DRC, bilateral Police-Police cooperation has been growing, especially in the area of capacity building, and frequent exchanges of information. There are Police delegations between the two countries in pursuance of our cooperation, the latest being a team of trainers from DRC Police, with international experts who, recently, visited Uganda to assess our training facilities, and explore possibilities of cooperation in the area of training.

4. I am in frequent communication with my counterpart, the Chief of Police of the DRC. A few months ago, I paid an official visit to DRC, and he is due to reciprocate. In fact, I invited him to attend, as an observer, a recent Annual General Meeting of our regional Police organization, the Eastern African Police Chiefs Organization (EAPCCO)that we have just held here in Kampala (15th-19th October 2012). EAPCCO brings together Police forces of 12 countries in the East, Central and Horn of Africa. He could not attend because of another regional conference in DRC taking place at about the same time.

5. In their Report, (Para. 50) the UN Group of Experts allege that: "While there (i.e. Kampala, note Para. 49), M23 cadres have been meeting with senior Ugandan military and civil authorities on a regular basis. In particular, a UPDF officer, a Ugandan civil society member, several Ugandan politicians, intelligence agents, diplomats, and former RDF officers told the group that M23 met with... Ugandan Inspector General of Police General Kale Kayihura. Three M23 cadres and M23 collaborators acknowledged that they have been engaging with these authorities on a weekly basis."

6. Para. 54 of the report further states: "Three Ugandan officials stated that in May and July 2012, Gen Kayihura held meetings with the rebels at Kisoro. According to a Ugandan official, a diplomat in Kampala and an armed member residing in Uganda, Kayihura frequently sent his deputy, John Ngaruye Ndungutse, in charge of counter-terrorism to Kisoro to facilitate support to the rebels."

7. I, categorically, state that I HAVE NEVER MET, as alleged or at all, any M23 rebels or cadres in Kampala, or anywhere else. Indeed, I am curious to know the details of these alleged meetings: where, when, who, and for what purpose, I am supposed to have met M23 cadres/rebels.

8. Similarly, I reject the outrageous lies that I, frequently, sent my deputy John Ngaruye Ndungutse "to facilitate support to the rebels". Incidentally, to correct the record, John Ndungutse is not my deputy. The Deputy Inspector General of Police of Uganda is Mr. John Martin Okoth Ochola. Mr. John Ndungutse is one of the directors, and he heads the Directorate of Counter-Terrorism.

9. I can recall the dates and reasons that I visited Kisoro this year. The first time was in May when we escorted the then Chairman of EAPCCO, Commissioner General of Police Emmanuel Gasana. Mr. Gasana was visiting Uganda as part of his schedule, as chairman of EAPCCO, of visiting member countries, and, also, in the context of our obligations of the Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) between Uganda and Rwanda. (See Appendix 1).

10. Mr. Gasana was interested to see what Uganda was doing to ensure safety and security along our part of the Northern Corridor, and, also, security at our common border. Among the places we visited on the way, were the border stations of Katuna in Kabale District, and Cyanika in Kisoro District on the same day. We had big delegations of senior officers from both countries with us, including John Ngaruye Ndungutse. We reached Kisoro late afternoon, held a joint security meeting at Cyanika, and talked to citizens who had gathered at the border on the Ugandan side, and saw off the Chief of Police of Rwanda, who crossed the border back to Kigali.

11. As we were preparing to depart for Kampala that evening, the district officials (Resident District Commissioner, LCV chairman, Regional Police Commander, the District Police Commander, the local UPDF Commander, as well as the District Internal Security Organization officer) informed us that they were faced with a humanitarian/security crisis at Bunagana border, as there was big influx of refugees from the DRC side of the border, because the fighting was approaching the border. They informed us that the refugees were refusing to leave the border, and that they were camped at verandas of shops, in schools, etc. They told us that tension between the refugees and the local residents was growing.

12. Although it was getting late in the evening, we decided to visit Bunagana border, which is not far from Kisoro town, to assess the situation. Indeed, we found a very perilous humanitarian crisis which the UNHCR, and the local district officials were finding a problem to solve. We held a security meeting, and listened to the grievances and petitions of local opinion and business leaders. Thereafter, I addressed the masses of refugees, mixed with local people that had gathered at the local Ugandan border town of Bunagana, to reassure them of security and convince them to relocate to the UNCHR transit-camp at Nyakabande.

13. While at the border, I communicated by phone to my counterpart, the Chief of Police of DRC, to brief him what I had observed, and the difficult situation that the Congolese refugees were faced with. He informed me that he was going to consult with higher authorities. At that point, the Government of DRC was in charge of the Bunagana border area.

14. That same evening, we held a follow-on planning and security meeting in Kisoro to coordinate humanitarian response to support UNHCR to relocate the refugees to a nearby transit camp in Nyakabande, and, also, ensure the security at the border, and in Kisoro town. I left three officers to assist in this crisis namely, Mr. Haruna Isabirye, the Deputy Director of Operations, Mr. John Ngaruye Ndungutse, Director Counter-Terrorism, and Mr. Joseph Mugisa (Head of Fire, Rescue and Eemergency Services) and to coordinate with the Office of the Prime Minister, for emergency response. After the meetings, I left Kisoro that same night.

15. In addition, the assertion that I held a meeting in Kisoro with M23 rebels in July 2012 has no basis in fact, as I did not visit Kisoro in the month of July, 2012, as alleged in the report.

16. Furthermore, the other dates I visited Kisoro were, first, later in August, 2012, to bury my late uncle, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Mulenga at Mutolere, Kisoro district, and on 6th-7th October 2012, when, on a Presidential programme, as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations, H.E. the President went to pay respects and tribute to my late father, John Kale, at his grave in Gisorora, Nyakabande, Kisoro District. As I was involved in the national celebrations that same week, I rushed back to Kampala.

17. I want to stress, once again, that on above dates that I visited Kisoro, I did not meet any member of, or any person associated with M23. I have never met, or held discussions, or "frequently", or at all, sent John Ngaruye Ndungutse "to facilitate support to the rebels" as claimed in the report, or instructed any officer under my command, to interact with, meet or assist in any way, any cadre/rebel of the M23.

18. Undoubtedly, the allegations contained in the Report are falsehoods, concoctions of individuals, whose motive I can only describe as evil and sinister. I would be interested to know who these "UPDF officer, a Uganda civil society member, several Ugandan politicians, intelligence agents, diplomats, and former RDF officers", who could tell such blatant and dangerous lies about me, and, indeed, what their real motives are!

Conclusion:

19. Finally, I categorically, refute these allegations. I have never held the alleged meetings, or any other meetings in Kisoro, and, for that matter, any other place, with the M23 rebels.

20. I am concerned that the Group of Experts would document such grave accusations against me, and the Force I command, and submit such report to the UN Security Council, without seeking my response to the alleged interaction with the rebels, or at the very least, endeavor to verify the information they may have received from some shadowy peddlers of malicious falsehoods and disinformation in the region.

21. At a personal level, I find it offensive and, indeed, insulting for any person or Group to suggest that I would offer support and assistance to a group led by Bosco Ntaganda, who was commander of UPC in Bunia, Ituri, and who, on two separate occasions, tried to assassinate me while I was on a peace mission in Ituri; first, by taking me hostage, and second, during skirmishes when he launched an armed attack at my headquarters at Bunia airport.

Lt Gen Kale Kayihura

Inspector General of Police.

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